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Syrians in the city of Idlib celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Syrian revolution against the regime of leader Bashar al-Assad.
Syrians in the city of Idlib celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Syrian revolution against the regime of leader Bashar al-Assad.

Welcome to Friday, where the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe (again), tensions flare in U.S. and China talks and snow on the Alps offers a cold measure of climate change. Italian weekly L'Espresso also explores the grueling and psychologically damaging work of social media content moderators.

Damage done: AstraZeneca overcaution will kill many

The official announcement came yesterday that, as virtually all competent doctors and scientists had been saying, the AstraZeneca vaccine is indeed safe. And most European countries will recommence distributing the jab, as the vaccination campaigns continue to be far slower than promised. For Guy Vallancien, a member of the French Academy of Medicine, even the temporary suspension, is akin to a death sentence for thousands — and an example of public policy at its weakest. Here's his piece for Les Echos:

Hans Jonas, the inventor of the concept of the "precautionary principle," has left us with the worst of bad ideas, and politicians have eaten it up to protect themselves against lawsuits. Even if it has since been lifted, how can we not protest the French state's decision to temporarily suspend the vaccine developed and tested by scientists at Oxford and AstraZeneca?

Understandably, certain medical scandals in the past could make our leaders wary. When applied to vaccines, however, this principle of extreme precaution cannot stand. As a preventive approach, the ratio between risks and benefits has still resulted in hundreds of millions of lives saved.

This is indeed very different from the sale of medication produced by private companies that give severe side-effects and offer only mediocre benefits — reimbursed, of course, by our healthcare system.

If all innovations come with risks, then vaccinations come with extraordinarily few, usually benign and temporary. A fire chief stopped vaccinating his team because one of his firefighters had one heart arrhythmia two days after the injection. What right did he have to deprive everyone else of protection, all the more useful since the main variant in France is now characterized as the more transmissible and dangerous strain? If we continue with this little game of "who won't take the risk," we will end up vaccinating only the dead. It works 100% and it is safe!

We have the data: The frequency of thrombosis (blood clots) following the injection of the AstraZeneca vaccine is 0.0004, i.e. about 30 cases out of 9.7 million people vaccinated, and for the Pfizer vaccine it's 0.0002 for every 10 million individuals. To date, there has been no proof that this is a cause-and-effect relationship, merely a coincidence that does not seem to be greater than that of keeping the population unvaccinated.

The quality of the AstraZeneca vaccine has been verified by independent experts, so what else can we do? Continue to vaccinate relentlessly.

This absurd decision to suspend their usage, which has spread like wildfire around the world, and particularly around Europe, shows how politicians are seriously lacking basic science and statistics in decision-making.

This matter will leave permanent scars. First of all, who will want to be vaccinated now with AstraZeneca's product? Excessive media coverage on its side-effects had already tainted the confidence of candidates who were waiting impatiently for the vaccine.

Politics in Europe is locked in a paralyzing state of acute precaution. Nobody needed this absurd decision. The governments in European Union countries give us a terrible example of how to conduct business. While I have supported the action of the team in power, I am aware of the extreme difficulty of managing this war against an invisible and insidious enemy and can share the hesitations inherent in such a complicated battle. Yet I cannot remain silent regarding this incomprehensible and harmful decision to withdraw a vaccine. Yes, precaution will kill an additional 3,000 Europeans per day, while the vaccine has already protected more than 25 million without any significant risk. Do the math!

Guy Vallancien / Les Echos

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AL JAZEERA
Al Jazeera is a state-funded broadcaster in Doha, Qatar, owned by the Al Jazeera Media Network. Initially launched as an Arabic news and current-affairs satellite TV channel, Al Jazeera has since expanded into a network with several outlets, including the Internet and specialty television channels in multiple languages.
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REUTERS
Reuters is an international news agency headquartered in London, UK. It was founded in 1851 and is now a division of Thomson Reuters. It transmits news in English, French, Arabic, Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Japanese, Korean, Urdu, and Chinese.
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L'Espresso is one of Italy's leading weekly magazines, co-founded in Rome in 1955 by typewriter magnate Adriano Olivetti. It is noted for its investigative pieces, and is considered center-left politically.
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The BBC is the British public service broadcaster, and the world's oldest national broadcasting organization. It broadcasts in up to 28 different languages.
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LES ECHOS
France's top business daily, Les Echos covers domestic and international economic, financial and markets news. Founded in 1908, the newspaper has been the property of French luxury good conglomerate LVMH (Moet Hennessy - Louis Vuitton) since 2007.
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Society

The Ideal Age To Marry? Reflections Of A 20-Something Indian Woman

India is raising the minimum age for women to marry. What does that mean on the individual level (with your parents whispering in your ear)?

A couple holding hands after marriage

Priyamvada Rana

-Essay-

NEW DELHI — A few days ago, I got a call from my parents, who wanted to talk about the "ideal age to marry." This came after news about India raising the minimum age for women to marry to 21, to match the age for men. It's a laudable move, sure, but I even wonder if 21-year-olds will be able to fathom the expectations, responsibilities and limitations that come with such a socially-constrained institution.

I am not ready at 26, and won’t be even at 30.

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