Feeling ‘like a guinea pig’ with the Covid-19 vaccine

After a series of European countries suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, people became skeptical of the vaccination campaign.

Khady Ballo, 21, a law student in the southern French town of Montpellier, said: “It feels like we are guinea pigs. I won’t get the AstraZeneca vaccine even though it’s approved.”

Maria Grazia Del Pero, 62, who works in the tourism industry in Milan, said: “Before the problem happened, I was very supportive of vaccination. Now I don’t get the AstraZeneca vaccine, because it was like a coin toss. lucky coin “.

The European Union is known for its strong resurgence after the crises. But the vaccination program is slow, the suspension of the Covid-19 AstraZeneca vaccine threatens to create a catastrophe that threatens its image for a long time.

It seems that the European Drug Administration (EMA) will soon announce the vaccine is safe, but millions have been shaken and hesitated by the previous decision to suspend vaccinations.

Vaccination of Covid-19 for the EU’s 450 million people has never been an easy task, especially since the alliance has almost no universal pre-pandemic health policy. Stagnation and confusion in vaccine sales, followed by delayed licensing, delivery problems and post-injection deaths left the European government in a passive position, and people reeled from conflicting claims contradiction.

A Covid-19 vaccination site in Milan on March 15, before Italy suspended its use. Image: NY Times

French officials stopped injecting the AstraZeneca vaccine a few days ago. The wave of fear increases rapidly, even as the government tries to reassure people that products are safe. The poll by the Elabe Institute, released on March 16, found that only 20% of French people believe in the AstraZeneca vaccine, 58% are skeptical and 22% are neutral.

“I trust AstraZeneca, I trust vaccines,” Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, told a press conference in Brussels. But this reassurance is not enough to convince the frustrated majority of the policy.

In a strong effort to reinforce wobbly beliefs, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said he will be vaccinated on live television as soon as the AstraZeneca vaccine is re-used.

Roberto Burioni, Italy’s leading virus expert, said: “Italian vaccine confidence is deeply damaged, not only with the AstraZeneca vaccine but also with the authorities. increase their anxiety “. Now a “all is well” ruling from the EMA on March 18 may not be enough to save the situation, he added.

Countries became concerned about the vaccine after noticing some cases of abnormal blood clotting. But researchers and drug administration have yet to find evidence that this phenomenon is related to vaccination. This week, AstraZeneca made a similar statement, based on the health records of the 17 million people who used the vaccine.

The sight of the UK increasing its immunization rate at three times the rate of France has questioned many countries, especially when the country has withdrawn from the EU in less than a month. In fact, vaccine skepticism has long been a prominent problem in France. A wave of apprehension spread late last year. By December, less than half of the population was ready to be vaccinated. According to a survey by market research firm Harris Interactive, that figure rose to 64% after that, at a time when the blood clots had not yet occurred. However, even then, the confidence in the AstraZeneca vaccine in particular was also lower than the general level, at only 43% of the population. Now, this ratio is reduced to half.

The situation in Germany is similar, although the number of deaths from Covid-19 is lower than that of France. Ulrich Weigeldt, head of the German Association of General Practitioners, said: “The discontinuation of the AstraZeneca vaccine has damaged its image, thus hindering the vaccination campaign in Germany from the very beginning.”

The British still quite believe in the AstraZeneca vaccine, millions of people have been vaccinated. “I will definitely get the AstraZeneca vaccine if it is used again,” said Corinne Taddei, 60, a karate coach in Paris. According to her, vaccination “is the only solution to save the world from pandemic”.

Maria Paraskevoula, a 52-year-old teacher in Athens, was also unaffected by the negative news. “I will take any vaccine, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, I don’t care. From what I know, the likelihood of a problem occurring is very low. There are always risks, but it can’t compare. walking around and waiting for illness, “she said.

Waiting room to monitor people who have just vaccinated at Versailles Nursing Home, France, February 2021.  Photo: NY Times

Waiting room to monitor people who have just vaccinated at Versailles Nursing Home, France, February 2021. Image: NY Times

Last week, when it was reported that two Sicily men and an Italian naval officer died after the AstraZeneca vaccination, the Tuscany region had 4,100 cancellations in a day, accounting for about 12% of registered vaccinations. the week before that. After a few days, the canceled schedule was passed on to the others wishing to give the injection.

The turmoil came in difficult times, as Europe faced a third “wave of Covid-19” due to the nCoV variant. The rate of economic recovery in the continent could be much slower than the US.

With a wave of grievances across the country and next year’s presidential election, the French government has wavered between deciding to continue the blockade or have the restaurant run after curfew since April 15. The country’s goal is to vaccinate at least one shot to about 10 million people by mid-April – which looks ambitious given the current situation, with only 5.6 million people receiving the vaccine. But the French authorities still think this is possible, amid the discontinuation of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

More than a year since the first European blockade, the prospects for an end to the health crisis are still far off. Laura Cerchi, a teacher at a primary school in the suburbs of Florence, got her first shot in March, said: “I have never been an objection to vaccination. But the turmoil made me wonder if Should I get a second dose or not. Contradictory messages make my faith waver. “

Thuc Linh (Follow NY Times)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *