Europe’s AstraZeneca ‘mistake’ savaged by top health psychologist as he sounds alarm bells
AstraZeneca: Suspension of vaccine will 'cost lives' says expert
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Health psychology professor Robert West said it was a “big mistake” for EU countries to pause the AstraZeneca vaccine and compared the hesitancy of the jab to another drug he had been analysing. Professor West explained that health regulators have a duty to be honest with the public who do not understand the science and whose vaccine concerns will echo across the world. The psychologist warned many more lives will be lost because of the pause than would be by the blood clot risk as he delved into what the fallout will now be because of the pause.
Speaking to Euronews, Professor West said: “I think the problem is that certainly among health authorities, not drug regulators, but from health authorities, there is a sense that they feel that they’re being cautious by taking the steps that they are.
“The reality is that they’re not being cautious what they’re doing is making a decision which we will see unfortunately in the end, will end up having cost lives.
“Not just because of the delays in getting this particular vaccine to people who would otherwise have taken it, which will cost lives.
“But also it raises unnecessary concerns by members of the public who are in no position themselves to judge.
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“Why would they? They’re not experts in this and so they rely on the health authorities and the regulators to be honest and open and to make the right decision.
“So I think it was a big mistake to suspend the vaccination programme I think it’s good that they’ve put it back but there has been some damage done.
“And it’s a lot of work to do to regain confidence as a result.”
Professor West was then asked whether the type of medicine involved has any effect on people taking it, for example, if the vaccine was in pill-form.
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He replied: “No, unfortunately, I don’t think so because we’ve seen this with other products.
“I’ve been involved with another drug which had concerns raised about it and it was a pill.
“The thing actually that was a very interesting parallel between the two drugs was what raised concern, the unusualness of symptoms they have.
“In both cases, the symptoms are very rare but they sort of felt very unusual and that from a psychological point of view gets you thinking there must be some connection.
“But when you’ve got tens of millions of people using a drug you will get very unusual symptoms arising just by chance.
“And so it’s a natural psychological phenomenon but in this particular case, it’s not a helpful one.”
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European countries paused the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine over fears it causes fatal blood clots among those vaccinated.
Countries acted unilaterally to pause the jab but the World Health Organisation and the European Medicines Agency both insisted the vaccine was safe to use.
France restarted its rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine but only for those aged 55+.
The neighbouring country has also been put into a month-long lockdown after the French government refused to listen to local leaders to put it in place earlier.
Meanwhile, the UK’s vaccination programme is one of the best in the world as over 25 million people have received their jab.
The UK is expected to lift more restrictions in the next few weeks but a leaked NHS letter warned vaccine supplies would be reduced at the end of the month.
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