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Europeans' trust in AstraZeneca vaccine plunges after suspensions: poll

Europeans' trust in AstraZeneca vaccine plunges after suspensions: poll
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Public trust in the AstraZeneca vaccine among Europeans declined significantly after several countries suspended its use over concerns about blood clots, according to a new poll.

Deutsche Welle reported Monday that a YouGov poll found a majority of residents in some of the largest European countries — Germany, France, Spain and Italy — believed the AstraZeneca vaccine to be unsafe.

The poll was conducted March 12-18 and surveyed around 8,000 people across seven European countries. The survey began before international health agencies ramped up their messaging that the vaccine is safe for widespread use.

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Fifty-five percent of German respondents said the AstraZeneca vaccine was unsafe, a 15 percent increase over a one-month period. In France, 61 percent of respondents also considered the company's vaccine unsafe. Both Italy and Spain saw 27 percentage point increases in concerns during the past month.

The United Kingdom was the only major European country whose confidence in the AstraZeneca vaccine remained unchanged by the recent spate of suspensions. Roughly two-thirds of U.K. respondents said they believed the vaccine to be safe, while 9 percent said they thought it was unsafe. The vaccine was developed in conjunction with the University of Oxford.

Around a dozen countries, including Denmark, France, Germany, Italy and Norway, temporarily suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine while they waited for a recommendation from the EU's top drug regulator.

The European Medicines Agency said Thursday that it remains confident that the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and effective, saying any side effects outweigh the risks of contracting COVID-19. The World Health Organization has made similar remarks in recent days.

The results of a recent phase III U.S. test released on Monday found that the AstraZeneca vaccine was 79 percent effective at stopping the coronavirus and 100 percent effective at preventing serious cases and hospitalizations. Participants in the trial were given two shots of the vaccine, spaced about four weeks apart, similar to how the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are administered.

AstraZeneca has said it will submit those findings to the Food and Drug Administration in hopes of receiving emergency use authorization. The agency has already approved vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.