What happened with the AstraZeneca vaccine? – BBC News

this week we're going to look at a puzzle of how a vaccine that was hailed as a vital achievement finds itself in a scientific and political storm i think it is sort of some kind of social or fear based contagion i mean there's no rational basis to this this is a perfectly safe vaccine and this is what natasha loader is talking about france germany and italy are among several countries to suspend the use of the astrozenica vaccine over safety fears in the last 10 days these european countries have all restricted the use of astrazeneca's vaccine many have completely suspended it and all have acted on concerns about blood clotting despite there being no evidence to link this vaccine and blood clotting and this is the latest message from the eu's medicines regulator this vaccine is safe and effective in preventing covet 19 and its benefits continue to be far greater than its risks but these aren't the first issues that astrazeneca has faced far from it first of all there was the initial information that the company released one headline read why oxford's positive covid vaccine results are puzzling scientists here's another after admitting mistake astrazeneca faces difficult questions about its vaccine the article goes on to say experts said the company's spotty disclosures have eroded confidence in other words it wasn't clear enough about its data also back in january emmanuel macron said the real problem on astrazeneca is that it doesn't work the way we were expecting it to today everything points to thinking it's quasi-ineffective on people older than 65.

Mr macron was wrong though there was a shortage of data for the over 65s but everything suggested the vaccine would be effective but by this point a perception was developing here's the bbc's europe correspondent gene mckenzie reporting that belgium's medical advisor has told me that people here have nicknamed it the aldi vaccine after the supermarket because they see it as the budget option and this evidence isn't just anecdotal this recent poll found 20 percent of people in france have confidence in the astrazeneca vaccine for pfizer it's 52 percent and while confidence in astrazeneca falls in europe infections of covid rise this is my colleague nick peake in prague in paris and once again in bergamo in northern italy covid patients gasp for air the nightmare prospect of a third wave in europe is now real there's also the speed of europe's vaccine rollout it's far slower than the uk and the us as you can see so infection rates hospitalizations vaccination speed the astrazeneca jab could help address all of these but there are at least four reasons why things have become complicated pr process politics and first patients norwegian patients the clusters of patients that we are talking about are not the more common clots like deep brain thrombosis these are very rare and severe cases with critical outcome in a very young population where this is not commonly seen and norway's decision has influenced other countries as this expert explains once one of them starts doing it then they get a collective anxiety they don't want to be standing out they don't want to be the only ones going on delivering it and if norway's decision is the first factor the second is politics astrazeneca finds itself in the middle of broader political tensions between the uk and the eu this was the eu's warning this week we want to see reciprocity and proportionality in exports and we are ready to use whatever tool we need to deliver on that and this is all about astrazeneca and where the doses produced in the uk are being fairly distributed to the eu and the threat to restrict vaccine exports was greeted this way by one uk cabinet minister who told politico it's got to the stage where this has become naked jingoism from the eu against britain they hate brexit they hate that our vaccine rollout has gone so well now the eu would dismiss that but the performance of every vaccine rollout is political and because astrazeneca is one of the main vaccines in europe and the uk it's become politicized there is though another explanation for this vaccine situation it's a third factor process tom nuttle is the economist berlin correspondent he tweets you don't need to conjure baroque theories to explain why european regulators steeped in precautionary principles ill-suited to a pandemic are following their usual bureaucratic logic keep tom's comments in mind as we listen to emmanuel macron we are led here by a simple guide informed by science and the relevant authorities also doing so within the framework of a european strategy that word framework is crucial the issue with astrazeneca is whether those frameworks have led to a decision out of step with the urgency of the moment and if those frameworks have stopped countries addressing a fourth factor pr because once questions exist about a vaccine they can spread rapidly this is a senior u.s epidemiologist this is part of the challenge we have with vaccine confidence if i tell you that vaccine a or drug a is involved with something and it gets for example on the internet suddenly you'll have a number of people saying look at i took that same drug or i took that same vaccine and now look what happened to me because regulators politicians and astrazeneca aren't just taking decisions about science they're taking decisions about information and as astrazeneca acknowledges the pressure that brings is enormous this has been for me probably the toughest thing i've ever worked on in terms of the goldfish bowl environment that you're in where every single thing is scrutinized politicized turned around misrepresented that was probably inevitable faced with a vast global problem astrazeneca was billed as a key part of the solution it still is now though this vaccine is becoming a real-time lesson in how our systems and our politics are struggling to cope with this pandemic and with how doubt and suspicion are easily created and very hard to erase it's a lesson being learnt the hard way

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