The start of the Covid-19 pandemic has seen an explosion of medical misinformation unleashing mass hysteria, confusion and misunderstandings. This is nothing new. Public attitudes towards vaccinations have been exposing the fragility of public trust in political and medical establishments since the first compulsory vaccine was introduced. However, social media has created a hub where such falsehoods can thrive and spread, making the situation at hand all the more critical.
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AstraZeneca Push Back
Europe is currently experiencing major scepticism surrounding the AstraZeneca (AZ) shot due to negative PR and contradictory political messaging. Questions about the vaccine’s safety have emerged following signs of rare blood clots as a potential side effect. Vaccine hesitancy has spiked as a result, with the pollster YouGov reporting that the number of people who believed the AZ vaccine to be safe in Germany, dropped from 43% in February to 32% just a month later. While In France, it dropped from 33% to 23%.
Following a week-long suspension, European governments are hoping to rebuild trust in the vaccine and combat the amplified doubts the stoppage may have caused. AZ vaccinations have resumed in France, Italy, Germany and several smaller countries. The AZ vaccine received a vote of confidence from the EMA, Europe’s drug regulator, who concluded that the benefits far outweigh the risk. The vaccine also received another endorsement from the World Health Organization, commending its potential to reduce deaths across the world.
Despite this, Denmark, Sweden and Norway are not yet ready to resume their AZ inoculations. While the United States is awaiting results of a 32,000-person clinical trial, expected to arrive in the upcoming weeks.
Johnson and Johnson Setback
The use of Johnson and Johnson’s (J&J) one dose has been put on a temporary halt in the US, prompting the company to pause the usage of the vaccine in the European Union. The news comes as a result of a warning from the US public health agency following six reported US cases of rare and severe blood clots among the 7 million people who have received it.
Walgreens and CVS, two of the country’s largest pharmacy chains, have followed suit, no longer administering doses made by J&J.
Officials have insisted that this would have a minimal impact on US supplies as they are mainly sourced from Pfizer and Moderna. However, J&J’s vaccine was considered important to certain aspects of America’s overall distribution strategy. Likewise, AstraZeneca remains a key element of Europe’s inoculation strategy. As such, the fear and uncertainty surrounding both vaccines can have a damaging effect on the public’s willingness to get vaccinated, potentially prolonging the pandemic. Conclusively, this irreparable harm could lead to a new surge in cases, impacting consumers’ willingness to return to “normal”, failing to restart the economy to pre-pandemic levels.
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