More than half of people surveyed in France, Germany and Spain now believe the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine is unsafe, according to a YouGov poll published on Monday.
The drastic decline in confidence comes soon after several EU governments briefly paused or limited the vaccine’s use over blood clotting concerns. Many countries resumed administering it after the European Medicines Agency last week confirmed the shot’s safety and urged people to take the drug.
Still, the survey found that 61 percent of French respondents believed the vaccine was unsafe — an increase of 18 percentage points from February — while among Germans, 55 percent (an increase of 15 percentage points) felt the same way.
In Spain, just over half, or 52 percent, said the shot was unsafe while 43 percent of Italians had a similar view; in both countries, the figure had surged by 27 percentage points since February.
“After concerns about its protection and potency were raised by leaders across Europe, the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has undoubtedly suffered damage to its reputation for safety on the Continent,” Matt Smith, lead data journalist at YouGov, said in a statement. “Not only have we seen considerable rises in those who consider it unsafe in the last two weeks in Europe, the AstraZeneca vaccine continues to be seen as substantially less safe than its Pfizer and Moderna counterparts.”
The only country surveyed where confidence in the vaccine remained high was in the United Kingdom. Roughly three-quarters of those polled locally still believed the vaccine was safe, although that figure also represented a slight decline on when people were polled last month.
The survey was based on almost 7,000 people from across the European Union and the U.K. who were asked their opinions of COVID-19 vaccines between March 12 and March 18.
“With a third wave of infections potentially emerging now across the Channel, officials everywhere will be worried if ongoing rows about AstraZeneca’s vaccine ends up damaging the rollout,” said YouGov’s Smith.