Has AstraZeneca’s suspension caused public mistrust of vaccination? A study delivers initial results

A suspension that leaves traces. After several cases of thrombosis (blood clots) were reported following the injection of the AstraZeneca vaccine, Denmark announced that it was suspending its use last week. Twelve other European countries then followed as a precaution.

In an opinion delivered on Thursday, the European Medicines Agency assured that the vaccine remained “safe and effective”. The risk of increased thromboembolic events due to its use has not been proven. Several countries, such as Italy, France or Germany, have immediately announced that they will resume vaccination with AstraZeneca.

But this short suspension seems to have had consequences on vaccine mistrust in several countries, as shown in a Danish study, which has not yet been the subject of a peer review. Researchers at the Department of Political Science at Aarhus University in Copenhagen questioned whether the temporary suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine had increased public distrust of vaccines in general.

The researchers plotted the impact of the Danish decision, comparing the level of vaccine acceptance between March 10 and March 16 in eight countries (March 10 being the date Denmark decided to suspend the vaccine): Denmark , France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Hungary, United Kingdom and United States.

Asking the question – “If health officials advise people like me to get the coronavirus vaccine, will I take their advice?” -, they found that the acceptance level of the vaccine had fallen by 5% on average, between March 10 and March 16, for each country in the study that discontinued the AstraZeneca vaccine. Italy and France are the countries where confidence in vaccines has eroded the most.

In the countries that followed Denmark, the Danish decision had two effects. First, a drop of 8% on average in the acceptance level of the vaccine, following the Danish decision alone. As national authorities in turn suspended AstraZeneca, the general acceptance level of the vaccine fell again by an additional 6% on average. On the other hand, in countries which have not suspended its use (United Kingdom, United States and Hungary), the level of mistrust towards vaccination has not increased.

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