In the new YouGov survey, at least 75 per cent of British respondents said that they trust the AstraZeneca jab, a stark contrast to similar surveys conducted across other European countries where the clotting concerns have seen some suspensions of vaccine programmes.
The UK’s medicines watchdog, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), said this week that there was a “strong possibility” the AstraZeneca vaccine caused fatal blood clots in some cases, and recommended people aged below 30 go for other vaccine alternatives.
At the same time, the regulator said the rate of blood clot cases remains low and the benefits of the vaccine still far outweigh the risks.
Anthony Harnden, deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) in the UK, has said this wasn’t an unusual move. “This isn’t unusual. So this is not undermining what the regulators are saying. The regulators are saying this vaccine is suitable for all age groups but it’s up to the individual countries to decide how best to deploy those vaccines.”
Another YouGov study conducted in late February found that Europeans were “already wary of the AstraZeneca vaccine”, and that the jab hasn’t seen the same level of confidence in continental Europe as those from the US’s Moderna or Pfizer, which is made in collaboration with Germany’s BioNTech.
In early March, countries including Denmark, Italy and Norway temporarily suspended the use of some or all of their AstraZeneca shots, though most have since resumed with some age restrictions.
The UK government has emphasised that the public should retain confidence in the AstraZeneca jab, saying that the “type of clot involved is vanishingly rare.”
The YouGov poll found that 75 per cent of Britons considered the AstraZeneca vaccine safe - which it said was “down only two percentage points since March”.
The poll found that public confidence in AstraZeneca’s vaccine in the UK was similar to that seen in the Pfizer-BioNTech jab.
David Juurlink, a drug safety researcher at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, tweeted: “I say this as someone who spends an inordinate of time dealing with rare drug side effects — identifying them, treating them, advising patients what to do in the face of uncertainty, etc. Don’t be afraid to get the AstraZeneca vaccine.”
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