Europeans’ confidence in AstraZeneca / Oxford’s Covid-19 vaccine has plummeted in the past two weeks, amid concerns about possible side effects, a YouGov opinion study published on Monday revealed. The vaccine is perceived as more dangerous than safe in Germany, France, Spain and Italy, indicates this study carried out between March 12 and 18, but which does not include Belgian data.
Its use had been suspended in several countries for fear that it would cause blood clots, sometimes fatal. On Thursday, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) deemed it “safe and effective” and use of the vaccine resumed in several countries, but the impact on public opinion has been felt, YouGov said.
“Not only have we seen a dramatic increase in the number of people who consider it unsafe over the past two weeks in Europe, but the AstraZeneca vaccine continues to be viewed as significantly less safe than those from Pfizer and Moderna,” commented Matt. Smith, data journalist at YouGov in a statement.
“With a third wave of infections potentially emerging on the other side of the Channel (on the continent, editor’s note), the authorities will be worried (about) whether the ongoing disputes over the AstraZeneca vaccine will harm its deployment, “he continued.
In France, mistrust of the AstraZeneca vaccine has increased sharply: 61% of people who responded consider that it is not safe (+18 points compared to a study carried out in February), against only 23 % who deem it safe. In Germany, 55% of respondents consider it dangerous (+15).
In Italy and Spain, where a majority of respondents previously believed the vaccine to be safe, (54% and 59% respectively), these numbers have dropped to 36% and 38%, lower than those who believe it is “unsafe” . In the United Kingdom, on the other hand, more than three quarters of respondents trust the vaccine of the Swedish-British group even if this percentage has slightly eroded, falling to 77% (-4).
In Sweden, more people consider the AstraZeneca vaccine to be safe (43%) than not (34%) while the Danes are divided (42% and 42%).
Confidence in the safety of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines has not changed.
The study was carried out among 1,672 British adults, 2,024 German adults, 1,022 French adults, 1,016 Italian adults, 1,050 Spanish adults, 1,004 Danish adults and 1,017 Swedish adults.
The Russian Sovereign Fund (RDIF) announced on Monday that it had reached an agreement with the Indian pharmaceutical group Virchow Biotech to produce 200 million doses of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V against the coronavirus. “The technology transfer is to be completed in the second quarter of 2021, and will be followed by large-scale commercial production,” said RDIF, which has partially funded vaccine development and is negotiating production agreements at the foreign.
Japan on Sunday lifted the state of emergency linked to the coronavirus pandemic in place in Tokyo and adjacent prefectures despite growing concerns over the resurgence of contamination with new variants of the virus. Tokyo and the prefectures of Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa, which were the last areas to be restricted, are still plagued by new infections.
According to Kyodo News, Japan confirmed 1,119 new cases, including 256 in Tokyo, and 20 deaths from Covid-19 on Sunday, up from a record 7,851 in January.
Even under these restrictions, trains and shops were crowded in Tokyo, however the wearing of masks was respected.
The government declared a state of emergency in four prefectures in early January and seven other prefectures were added to this list in the following days.
Restrictions had already been lifted in some prefectures north of Tokyo in February and March.
The launch of the vaccination campaign in mid-February was quite slow and the general public will likely not receive doses before the Olympics postponed to July 23.
Japan has so far recorded 457,577 infections and 8,849 deaths linked to Covid-19, according to the NHK media count.