AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness against South Africa variant

astrazeneca COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness

One of the variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus may impact the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine (ChAdOx1). In this case, the so-called South African variant, B.1.351, has shown to significantly reduce the efficacy of the vaccine. This has become a worrisome issue as the world tries to move away from this pandemic.

Of course, there are only a handful of new COVID-19 strains that are actually dangerous, but the issues are whether the new vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, JNJ, and AstraZeneca confer immunity to any new variants and what regulatory requires may be necessary for the vaccine manufacturers to respond to them.

It’s important for us to keep abreast of these variants and speculate on how we might move forward to protect people. That’s why we need to understand how this new SARS-CoV-2 variant impacted the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine.

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COVID-19 vaccine facts and myths – UPDATED info about the new vaccines

COVID-19 vaccine facts

There are so many myths about the COVID-19 vaccine, I wanted to post some facts about the new vaccines which we can use for debunking purposes. I used to think that the HPV vaccine brought the most hatred and misinformation from the anti-vaccine world, but it’s clear that the new COVID-19 vaccines are their new targets.

This article will only focus on the five vaccines that I believe will eventually receive FDA or European Medicines Agency (EMA) approval – the Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ Janssen), and Novavax vaccines. I remain unconvinced that any vaccine made in China or the Russian Sputnik V vaccine will ever get approved by countries with robust drug regulatory agencies. However, if they are, I will certainly add them to a future iteration of this list.

I’m going to make this in a basic chart form for ease of use. I will link to supporting evidence wherever relevant.

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AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and blood clots – let’s go for facts first

astrazeneca COVID-19 vaccine clots

Next up on the COVID-19 vaccine hit list is that the AstraZeneca (Oxford University) vaccine causing blood clots (thrombus). Spoiler alert – no it probably doesn’t.

We should just assume that every single “adverse event” whether or not they’re actually linked to any COVID-19 vaccine will involve the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, which states that because one event precedes another event, they must be linked. In this case, are blood clots related to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine?

Spoiler alert – the answer is no. That would make this a short article, but real science requires real explanation, so here we go.

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COVID-19 vaccine survey of Americans – atheists love the vaccine

COVID-19 vaccine survey

A new survey of Americans showed that atheists are more likely to get the COVID-19 vaccine than any other religious group (atheism isn’t really a religious group). It’s ironic that I consider the anti-vaccine beliefs check all of the boxes of the definition of a religion.

Despite my admittedly clickbait title, this survey showed some interesting results regarding American’s attitudes to the COVID-19 vaccine, including an improvement in the desire to get the vaccine by people of color. But what is troubling that the predicted uptake may not help us reach the herd immunity level to stop this pandemic.

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COVID-19 first anniversary – the old raptor was wrong on vaccines and right on quackery

COVID-19 first anniversary

Today represents the first anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yes, it was around for a few months before this, but many of us heard the same thing about SARS and MERS, ironically, both related coronaviruses, Ebola, Zika, and other diseases over the past few decades. I think many of us just sighed, shrugged our shoulders, and repeated the mantra that the flu killed more people.

In the days that led up to March 11, 2020, I think we were becoming much warier, if not concerned. A few counties in California, probably the first in the USA, decided to shut down and limit gatherings to no more than 1000 people. Yes, 1000 people. Today, we think that’s outrageous and frightening.

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Joe Mercola warned by FDA about quack COVID-19 treatments

joe mercola

One of our favorite alternative medicine quacks, Dr. Joe Mercola, DO, has been warned by the FDA to cease promoting useless COVID-19 treatments. This is not the first time that Dr. Mercola has run afoul of the FDA, and given his past activities, I doubt it’s his last.

The FDA told Joe Mercola that three products he markets with COVID-19 treatment claims are are “unapproved new drugs” and “misbranded drugs” being sold in violation of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The three products are – Liposomal Vitamin C, Liposomal Vitamin D3, and Quercetin and Pterostilbene Advanced.

In case you don’t feel like reading what Joe Mercola has done this time, I’ll save you a bit of time. There is no evidence that any of these products do anything to treat COVID-19. But let’s take a look at Mercola and his quack treatments.

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COVID-19 vaccine essentials – I stopped worrying and loved the jab

two covid vials on pink surface

This article about COVID-19 vaccine essentials was written by Dr. Frederik Lermyte, Ph.D. (Twitter) Dr. Lermyte is an assistant professor in the chemistry department at the Technical University of Darmstadt (Germany). He is interested in all things science, although he focuses on understanding the structure and chemistry of proteins, especially those relevant for human health and disease.

Disclaimer: While I’ve tried to make this discussion about COVID-19 vaccine essentials as accurate as possible for something meant for a general audience, one or two mistakes might have crept in. I’m obviously also simplifying some things here for brevity. Also, all of this is only my opinion, and obviously not medical advice.

Someone reached out to me a while ago through Twitter as they had an appointment to get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and were feeling anxious. I explained some vaccine essentials to them as a series of direct messages.

I’m adapting and sharing this article on COVID-19 vaccine essentials now (with permission from the person who originally reached out to me) in case it’s still useful to anyone. I actually thought it was all fairly well known by now, but I’ve been hearing more nonsense about these vaccines again lately, so perhaps this is still useful after all.

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Adenovirus vaccines for COVID-19 – scientific facts vs anti-vax nonsense


The new COVID-19 vaccines from Johnson and Johnson (JNJ) and AstraZeneca utilize an adenovirus-vector to prevent the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. Of course, this being a new vaccine technology, like the mRNA vaccines used by Pfizer and Moderna, we will be hearing all kinds of false claims about the new adenovirus vaccine.

So, this article will just try to explain what an adenovirus is, how it works in vaccines, and why it is safe. There’s going to be a lot of science here, so I’ll do my best to link you to good articles that explain some of it.

The anti-vaccine squad used an ignorance of basic cell biology to make all kinds of odd claims about the mRNA vaccines such as claiming that it would change the DNA of the vaccine recipient. It can’t.

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Vaccine profits from Big Pharma – let’s take a closer look at this trope

vaccine profits

The old myth of the huge Big Pharma vaccine profits – it’s the subject of so many memes, tropes, and outright lies from the anti-vaccine activists. These vaccine deniers, who not only lack knowledge of science but also of basic corporate finance, believe that every Big Pharma CEO relies on vaccines for their next bonus check, which they use to buy their new Ferrari to show off to imaginary vaccine-injured children.

I am not naive – public corporations have an obligation to their shareholders and employees to maximize profits. That’s capitalism, I suppose.

But where this trope goes off the rails is when you realize that vaccine profits would be eclipsed by medical industry profits if Big Pharma simply stopped producing vaccines – mass epidemics would mean that hospitals would be filled with patients, just look at the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s ironic that the anti-vaxxers claim that Big Pharma’s greed gives us vaccines, but if they were truly greedy they’d be out of the vaccine business.

This article is not going to be as much science as I usually do – it’s going to focus on finance and accounting. Yes, I’m a finance and accounting geek as much as I am a science aficionado. 

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COVID-19 vaccine safety signals – ACIP reports good news so far


The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has reported that there are no COVID-19 vaccine safety signals through 16 February 2021 for the two vaccines available at that time from Moderna and Pfizer. This is good news and should allay the fears of those who might be on the fence about the vaccines.

I want to briefly examine what ACIP discussed regarding the COVID-19 safety signals. In addition, they looked at any concerns with regards to the vaccine and pregnant women – also good news. So, just good news.

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