Young Australians refusing the AstraZeneca vaccine have been warned they have a one in 50 chance of ending up in ICU with Covid unless they get jabbed.
With stubborn case numbers still refusing to come down in New South Wales, experts say mass vaccination is the only way for Australia to escape a constant cycle of lockdowns.
But a large section of the population, especially those under 40, are still delaying getting jabbed – and it could cost them their life.
Dr Norman Swan said Sydney’s Indian Delta strain is more virulent and more likely to cause disease than the first version of the virus, with a 27-year-old Sydney man the latest victim after taking a sudden turn for the worst and collapsing in the shower.
His concerns were echoed by a Who’s Who of Australia’s top doctors, who signed an open letter begging young Australians to get the first vaccine available to them – and not to wait for Pfizer.
‘There are younger people in intensive care and on ventilators in New South Wales, and it’s a dangerous virus for young people,’ Dr Swan told The Project on Wednesday night.
Australia’s top doctors have urged young Aussies to get vaccinated as soon as possible with the first vaccine available to them (pictured, walkers in Sydney’s Rushcutters Bay on Wednesday)
‘You have lots of younger people dying in America and the UK and so on, and this is what happens – and you’ve got to balance it up.
‘You’ve got a 1 in 30,000 risk of a clotting syndrome with Astra, and a 1 in 50 chance of ending up in ICU if you’ve actually got infected.
‘Young people do need to get vaccinated.’
Forklift truck driver Ady Al-Askar, 27, collapsed and died in the shower at his home in Liverpool after he caught Covid from his wife, who is an aged care nurse.
He had delayed getting vaccinated because of concerns about possible ‘long-term’ side effects, relatives said.
A 16-year-old is also on life support in the intensive care unit of Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney’s inner west after also becoming infected.
Dr Swan explained young men in particular are putting off the vaccine.
‘This requires particularly getting through to young men, not just young men where English is not their first language, young men everywhere think that they’re bulletproof,’ he added.
‘It’s well recognised, [we need to] convince them there’s no bravado here.’
Forklift truck driver Ady Al-Askar (pictured) collapsed and died at the age of 27 in the shower at his home in Liverpool after he was caught Covid from his wife, who is an aged care nurse
Six Australians have died as a result of developing blood clots after receiving their AstraZeneca jab, out of about 12.3 million doses administered (pictured, a pop-up vaccination clinic in Sydney’s south-west)
Dr Swan’s warning comes as Australia’s former deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Nick Coatsworth went even further in the open letter published in The Australian on Thursday.
Co-signed by 13 other world-renowned Australian experts in the field, the letter warns the chance of dying from Covid is a shocking 1 in 35 on average across all age groups.
By contrast, death from the very rare blood clotting side effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine are less than 1 in 1,000,000, they say.
‘Do not wait for the Pfizer vaccine if the AstraZeneca vaccine is available to you,’ they wrote.
‘AstraZeneca is an excellent vaccine that has already saved millions of lives and will save many more.
‘Covid kills, and by the time you or someone you love is infected, hospitalised or in ICU it is too late.’
Six Australians have died as a result of developing blood clots after receiving their AstraZeneca jab, out of more than 12.3 million doses administered.
Meanwhile 17 people have died as a result of the current Covid outbreak in NSW in the last six weeks.
Former deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Nick Coatsworth (pictured) warned the chance of dying from Covid in Australia is a shocking 1 in 35 if you are infected
The health experts recommend two doses of either vaccine as soon as possible (pictured, a woman in exercise gear on a stroll in Sydney’s eastern suburbs on Wednesday)
The letter adds: ‘While the risk of death is highest in older age groups, we are now seeing serious illness and death in unvaccinated young patients.
‘The risk, however, is also not all about simple survival. Between 10 and 30 per cent of people who contract Covid will suffer long-term health consequences, the seriousness of which is yet to be fully understood.’
They also smashed some of the myths in circulation about the vaccine with real-world data from hundreds of millions of AstraZeneca vaccine doses given globally.
‘People with a heart condition, diabetes, a history of deep vein thrombosis, a history of cancer, and many other chronic or severe conditions can be reassured they face no additional risks,’ they say.
‘There is no evidence the vaccine impacts fertility.’
The rising number of Covid cases in NSW in the current outbreak has been slowly creeping up since the first case emerged on June 16
Seventeen people have died as a result of the current Covid outbreak in NSW (pictured, women exercising in Bass Hill on Wednesday in the midst of the current lockdown)
Pregnant women are advised to get the Pfizer jab rather AstraZeneca, they say, simply because there is more evidence that it is safe for pregnant women, rather than the AstraZeneca jab being unsafe.
But they warn vaccination is vital: ‘If pregnant women become infected with Covid-19, they are more likely than other women of the same age to have severe symptoms and need hospital admission.’
They also lay waste to the myth that AstraZeneca is less effective as a vaccine than Pfizer.
‘In terms of preventing severe disease, both AstraZeneca and Pfizer have similar profiles against Delta,’ they say.
‘Two doses – whether AstraZeneca or Pfizer – are both highly protective against severe disease.’
They urged everyone to get vaccinated at the earliest chance.
‘At present there are two Covid-19 vaccines available in Australia,’ their letter says.
‘Both are highly effective at preventing serious illness from Covid-19. Both have very rare side effects.
Younger Australians are feared to be hesitant to get vaccinated after changing health advice caused confusion (pictured, a Sydneysider in Centennial Park on Wednesday)
The message was reiterated by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian (pictured) on Wednesday as the state recorded another 233 cases and two deaths
The move by the leading health experts to speak out is a bid to reverse the effect of continually changing official advice on the safety of Astra Zeneca from ATAGI, the government agency which oversees immunisation.
It went from signing off AZ for over 40s to restricting it to over 50s and then over 60s only, until the decision was reversed in the wake of the current NSW outbreak.
The current advice is: ‘In a large outbreak, the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca are greater than the risk of rare side effects for all age groups.
‘ATAGI reiterates that all adults in greater Sydney should strongly consider the benefits of earlier protection with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca rather than waiting for alternative vaccines.’
The Australian health experts smashed the myth that AstraZeneca is less effective as a vaccine than Pfizer (pictured, a woman exercising in Centennial Park in Sydney’s eastern suburbs on Wednesday)
Federal government Treasury modelling has also estimated the impact of limited vaccination take-up at a potential cost of $7billion to the nation in lost growth every three months, if only 50 per cent of the country is jabbed.
The message was reiterated by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Wednesday as the state recorded another 233 cases and two deaths.
‘This disease is lethal and it affects people of all ages,’ she said.
‘We can’t stress how important it is to come forward and get vaccinated.
‘If you are vaccinated you are staying out of hospital, staying out of the ICU and helping to reduce the spread of the virus.’
The 27-year-old had been isolating in his Liverpool unit in Sydney’s southwest with his aged care nurse wife, Yasmin (pictured together), who first contracted the virus and brought it home from work
Australia’s latest young victim of the virus, Mr Al-Askar, had barely showed any symptoms, but collapsed in the couple’s shower on Tuesday afternoon.
Next door neighbour Mimi Anzures overheard his last tragic moments as relatives discovered him after he collapsed.
‘At first I heard crying, then shouting and howling,’ she told the ABC.
‘After that two ambulances came and after a few minutes there were police cars everywhere.’
Mr Al-Askar’s cousin Bash Mnati said Ady’s symptoms were brief and not severe.
‘His head was hurting the day before. He wasn’t feeling well.’
Mr Al-Askar was said to be anxious about getting vaccinated because he feared it could have long-term side effects.
HOW LIKELY ARE YOU TO GET COVID-19 AFTER BEING FULLY VACCINATED?
So-called ‘breakthrough’ COVID-19 cases occur when people contract the disease 14 days or more after receiving their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine or the Johnson & Johnson one-shot jab.
Clinical trials have shown that Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine is 95% effective in preventing symptomatic disease and the Moderna vaccine is 94.5% effective.
Meanwhile, real-world data showed the Pfizer jab is 91% effective against all disease for at least six months and the Moderna vaccine is 90% effective.
This means that fully vaccinated people are between 90% and 95% less likely to develop COVID-19 than unvaccinated people.
In addition, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine trials showed 72% efficacy in the U.S., meaning those who got the one-shot jab are 72% less likely to contract the disease.
When comparing fully vaccinated people who did and did not get sick, the risk is even lower.
The most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data show that 10,262 of at least 133 million Americans who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 later contracted the disease.
This translates to 0.00716% of people who have completed their vaccine series have gone on to test positive.
It also represents the true odds of getting COVID-19 after full vaccination: less than 0.01%.
What’s more, fully vaccinated people who test positive have mild illnesses, and are very unlikely to be hospitalized or die.
The CDC states that 99.5% of all deaths occur in unvaccinated people.
That means, if the figure applies to the 3,165 Americans who’ve died in July 2021 so far – as of July 13 – about 3,150 deaths would be among unvaccinated people and 15 deaths among fully vaccinated people.