AstraZeneca vaccine is at the center of skepticism as Europe’s immunization drive looks in jeopardy

AstraZeneca vaccine is at the center of skepticism as Europe’s immunization drive looks in jeopardy

German politicians are supporting the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine amid soaring doubts around the vaccine hampering Europe’s Covid-19 immunization program. Last month there was a tug-of-war between European Commission and AstraZeneca, the British – Swedish vaccine manufacturer. 

German media has defined the Oxford vaccine as a “shelf warmer” after only 17% of total doses delivered to Germany have been administered till now, highlighting the extremely staggered vaccination drive in the country. By Thursday, according to the German disease control agency, out of 736,800 doses delivered to the country only 129,021 doses have been administered. 

Coming in support of the British vaccine, Jens Spahn, the German health minister issued a public statement of confidence for vaccine calling it a “privilege” to be able to receive highly “safe and effective” vaccine. Mayor Michael Muller of Berlin went a step further and threatened people of being sent at end of the queue if they refused the Oxford vaccine or asked for an alternative. He said, “I won’t allow tens of thousands of doses to lie around on our shelves while millions of people across the country are waiting to be immunized. Those who don’t want the vaccine have missed their chance.”

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Following trial data criticism for people over 65 years old, German health authorities are administering vaccine to only young individuals and healthcare workers below 65 years of age. Side effects reported at time of trials are further posing problems with vaccination for healthcare workers. Sweden regions including Sormland had to pause vaccination after some healthcare workers reported side effects and called in sick after receiving inoculation. 

Trials have shown 60% efficacy in clinical trials. In contrast, Moderna and BioNTech vaccines have shown 95% efficiency. Oxford vaccine has the prime advantage of not requiring deep-freeze storage. Furthermore, the chief medical expert of AstraZeneca says that the vaccine has proved to be 100% efficient in preventing death and extreme illness in people. 

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