European countries announced last Thursday (18) that they will resume applications of the vaccine against covid-19 produced by AstraZeneca, interrupted after reports of blood clot formation in patients who received doses. According to the European Medicines Agency (EMA), initial investigations have pointed out that the substance is “safe and effective” – and the World Health Organization (WHO) declares full support for the continuation of immunization programs that have it as an option.
Now, the biggest challenge is to combat public mistrust amid the growing number of cases of the disease and fatalities caused by Sars-CoV-2 worldwide. Also according to the EMA, as the connection between the pharmaceutical product and the unusual disturbances that made headlines in different regions cannot be ruled out for the time being, the evaluations must be maintained.
In any case, the entity will add a warning to information related to the drug, warning about potential side effects, which appear to be extremely rare, and stresses that the benefits clearly outweigh the risks.
“The evidence we have at the moment is not sufficient to conclude with certainty whether these adverse events are in fact caused by the vaccine or not,” he highlights.
Soumya Swaminathan, WHO’s chief scientist, defends: “People die every day. So the question [that we need to clarify] really is the connection with the vaccine. That’s why we need to examine all the data”, referring to the death of a 60-year-old woman in Austria, allegedly linked to the immunizer.
“Experts are analyzing the facts and, so far, have not found an association between these events and the vaccine because the rates regarding occurrences in the vaccinated group are, in fact, lower than would be expected in the general population at the same time”, complements.
Peter Arlett, chief of pharmacovigilance at EMA, explains that the committee responsible for the studies provides for additional consultations with specialists, studies of how common clotting disorders are and “laboratory tests to see if there is anything particular about these patients who have blood clots. . ”
In addition, the agency recommends, vaccinees who show symptoms such as persistent bleeding, chest or stomach pain, severe or worsening headaches or blurred vision should seek immediate medical assistance.
A few hours after the declarations, at least 12 countries out of the 20 that paused their campaigns decided to trust the institutions, among them Germany, Italy, Spain, Holland and France – which also decreed, on the 18th, the third lockdown since the beginning of the pandemic, lasting one month and starting at midnight this Saturday (20th). The measure aims to contain the third wave of contamination and will affect thousands of people.
Speaking of the credibility of the AstraZeneca vaccine, Michael Bang Petersen, a political scientist at Aarhus University in Denmark, one of the first countries to suspend the substance, laments: “At least in the short term, there have been some negative effects from this whole series of events in general acceptance. ”
In his studies, which included analyzes of the attitudes of people in eight countries towards the pandemic, he revealed that the drop in confidence in the region was about 11%.
Finally, Cornelia Betsch, a psychologist at the University of Erfurt, Germany, criticizes the authorities’ stance on providing details after they stopped applications last Monday (15). “They dropped the ball and ran away,” he said. According to her, communication in the coming days will be crucial for the success of the actions.