European Countries Halt AstraZeneca Vaccine Rollout amid vaccine shortage

More countries pause AstraZeneca vaccine rollout amid fears arising from a small number of cases (40) of possible blood clotting and a possible vaccine shortage and calls for greater two way vaccine exchange between UK and Europe.

Over the past 24 hours, Germany, France, Italy and Sweden became the latest European countries to pause the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine as a precautionary measure over possible side effects.

In France and Germany, online accounts have seized on a perceived delay in stopping the rollout to fuel hesitancy and misinformation. François Asselineau, leader of the Euroskeptic political party Popular Republican Union, said Prime Minister Jean Castex “had injected AstraZeneca to ~1m French guinea pigs.” The Facebook post garnered at least 1,100 shares. Martin Sichert, a member of the far-right Alternative for Germany party, shared a graphic that read: “End the human experiment NOW!”

Hundreds of Facebook reactions on the news articles are pushing the narrative that those promoting unevidenced claims about the vaccine are correct. The top comment on one French news article said, “The problem with conspiracy theorists is that they are right, but too soon.” A similar post in German, shared at least 558 times, read: “So were the ‘conspiracy theorists’ and ‘Covidiots’ right again?” On the other hand, many high-engagement posts are encouraging confidence in the vaccine and saying the pause is evidence that procedures are working as intended. A Facebook post from Carola Holzner, a senior physician at Essen University Hospital in Germany, compared the small number of reported blood clots following vaccination to the millions of people who have been vaccinated.

“I think you should focus very carefully on all the zeros in this numbers game,” she said. The post drew at least 12,000 shares.  Other high-engagement posts in multiple languages are pointing out that the contraceptive pill has higher confirmed rates of thrombosis than the reported figure for the AstraZeneca vaccine. According to a 2013 European Medicines Agency review, there were five to 12 cases of blood clots per 10,000 people who took combined hormonal contraceptives for a year. This was compared with a reported 15 deep vein thrombosis cases among 17 million AstraZeneca vaccine recipients in the UK and EU. Yesterday, the EMA stated that the number of overall thromboembolic events in vaccinated people appears to be no higher than the general population, and that the pause is a precaution.

  Source  Bethan John (First Draft)

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