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Has Europe lost the plot with Covid-19 vaccines? Can the latest treatment for Alzheimer’s disease succeed where so many others failed? And why don’t biotech companies just come clean when things go wrong?

We discuss all that and more this week on “The Readout LOUD,” STAT’s biotech podcast. First we unpack the crisis of confidence facing AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine in Europe with Alison Buttenheim, a University Pennsylvania professor who studies vaccine acceptance. Then, we explain the latest data on an Alzheimer’s disease treatment from Eli Lilly and why it has polarized experts in the field. Finally, we make a modest proposal to the biotech industry: Give honesty a chance.


For more on what we cover, here’s an update on AstraZeneca; here’s the latest on Lilly’s Alzheimer’s drug; here’s where you can subscribe to the First Opinion Podcast; and here’s our complete coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

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And if you have any feedback for us — topics to cover, guests to invite, vocal tics to cease — you can email [email protected].


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  • Please note that EMA’s safety committee, PRAC, in its preliminary review on 18 Mar 2021 confirmed that:
    “the benefits of the vaccine in combating the still widespread threat of COVID-19 (which itself results in clotting problems and may be fatal) continue to outweigh the risk of side effects;
    the vaccine is not associated with an increase in the overall risk of blood clots (thromboembolic events) in those who receive it;
    there is no evidence of a problem related to specific batches of the vaccine or to particular manufacturing sites;
    however, the vaccine may be associated with very rare cases of blood clots associated with thrombocytopenia, i.e. low levels of blood platelets (elements in the blood that help it to clot) with or without bleeding, including rare cases of clots in the vessels draining blood from the brain (CVST).”
    It is a good example of confidence building pharmacovigilance that the issue was raised and that the public are told that the reason for accepting the vaccine is that the benefits outweigh the risk.

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