Professor Clive Landis, Immunologist and Chairman of The University of the West Indies COVID-19 Task Force. (Image courtesy The UWI)

Chairman of the UWI COVID-19 Task Force Dr Clive Landis is advising citizens to trust the science and only listen to advice about vaccines from regulatory agencies such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

“The vaccines have all been approved…we’re delighted with the vaccines, they are all working extremely well,” Dr Landis said.

His comments, made on CNC3’s the Morning Brew programme on Tuesday, came after the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine – currently being administered to citizens of this country – was suspended by over 12 countries around the world, mainly Europe in the last month.

The suspension was due to concerns about side effects, especially people suffering from blood clots after reportedly taking the AstraZeneca vaccine. But Dr Landis blamed this on politics and said the occurrence of blood clots in patients was very rare.

“It’s very, very hard to study or measure them. If you take the UK for example, they’ve had 18 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine administered, and they have been 30 cases of the suspected blood clot and of them nine have been fatal, so you’re looking at a fatality rate that is less than a million,” Dr Landis said.

He said the impact of the vaccine has been tremendous in England, evidence that citizens should stick to regulatory pronouncements and not get distracted by what he described as a political tug-of-war.

“Look at all the data,” the chairman said.

Just hours after Dr Landis’ interview, chair of the vaccine evaluation team at the EMA Marco Cavaleri said the association between blood clots and AstraZeneca was clear but the cause for the reaction was unclear.

In a statement, the EMA said that its review of the vaccine was ongoing, and it is expected to announce its findings on Wednesday or Thursday.

And as the world awaits the results of that investigation, Dr Landis said he believes the UK variant will take over the world but the good news is that the vaccines were working.

He said this was the fourth time the global pandemic was replaced by a new variant and the one that seems to be worrying at this time was the P1 variant from Brazil.

“We want to be monitoring that, so Brazil has had a heavy resurgence and the P1 variant seems to be sufficiently different from the original variant in that people can be reinfected,” Dr Landis said.

The chairman also congratulated Trinidad and Tobago for receiving the first instalment of vaccines from COVAX. Dr Landis added as the world deals with a vaccine shortage, each country must make the best use of the vaccine.