The risk of a medical event as a result of taking any of the major Covid-19 vaccines is “miniscule”, according to Dr John Fraser, a world-renowned medical professor and heart and lung intensive care specialist.
Speaking with Conexus Financial CEO Colin Tate as part of the Redefining Leadership Series, presented in partnership with MLC Wealth, Fraser expressed frustration at the “media beat up” over blood clots associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“Good news is a little bit harder to sell than bad news,” he said. “In terms of the data the risk of a clot with the Astra vaccine is minimal.”
Fraser is counted as one of the world’s foremost medical researchers. Coming from the east end of Glasgow, he decided to follow his grandmother – who was the first female doctor at Queens University in Belfast – into medicine after realising he was never going to cut it as a football star.
“I was a rotten football player,” he recalled. “That was my aspiration but God never connected my brain to my feet.”
Now based in Brisbane with his wife and five children, Fraser has over 300 published medical research papers and is a professor at five Australian universities, as well as being head of intensive care at Brisbane’s St Andrews Hospital and a specialist in intensive care at Prince Charles Hospital.
Given a first-hand look at the damage caused by the pandemic, Fraser expressed his frustration with leaders in developed nations such as the US and Brazil that failed to act in a timely and decisive manner to stop the spread of virus.
“If you look globally America has 4 per cent of the world’s population and 20 per cent of the world’s Covid mortality, that’s a failure of leadership,” Fraser said. “It’s easy being a leader when there’s no hard choices.”
His greater frustration, however, comes with efforts to undermine the vaccination programs being rolled out around the world.
“The risk event rate is tiny, it’s absolutely miniscule,” he said.
After around 5,000,000 vaccinations around the world, Fraser explained, a typical amount of subsequent blood clots would be around 50,000. “From the data I’ve heard it’s about 5,000 people,” he said. “It’s completely within, in fact less than, the normal amount of clots you’d see. So from this its clear there is no attributable additional risk with any vaccine.”
Covid-19 itself causes blood clots in the lungs and legs, Fraser added, so by taking the vaccine people are actually reducing their chance of blood clots.
“By taking the vaccine you drop your risk of Covid, therefore your risk of clots,” he said. “Whether its Phizer, AstraZeneca, the data is good and strong and it’s safe. I’ve had the Phizer vaccine but if someone offered me the AstraZeneca tomorrow I’d take it, I recommended it to my mother.”
While conceding that it wouldn’t be right to forcibly vaccinate people, Fraser believes working towards herd immunity is an obligation people have as members of their community.
“If I was Alan Joyce at Qantas I would not let them on my plane because they give me an attributable risk and I don’t think that’s fair,” he said. “And if it’s my children they’re giving that risk to, I don’t think that should be allowed.”