Thursday, 19 August 2021

Vaccines, vaping and varenicline

In my City AM column today, I discuss the risks of vaccines, vaping and varenicline and the contradictory ways in which they are treated by regulators and the WHO.

When the AstraZeneca vaccine was found to be associated with blood clots in a small number of cases, the World Health Organisations’s Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety urged its continued use because, it said, “the AstraZeneca vaccine’s benefits outweigh its risks”. It added that: “The question with any pharmaceutical or vaccine is whether the risk of taking it is greater or less than the risk of the disease it is meant to prevent or treat.”

And yet the WHO is also fiercely opposed to e-cigarettes. A WHO report published last month called for countries to either ban their sale completely or subject them to harsh, tobacco-style regulation. It is eager to stress that “e-cigarettes are harmful to health” although it is far from clear what those risks are. When it comes to vaccines, the WHO is interested in relative risks and the overall effect on the health of the population. When it comes to vaping, however, it cannot see beyond tiny – and largely hypothetical – absolute risks.

No comments: