Politicians must dial down the rhetoric over COVID vaccines

Editorial in Nature:

In January, French President Emmanuel Macron called the AstraZeneca–Oxford coronavirus vaccine “quasi-ineffective for people over 65”, on the day that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommended approving it. Kate Bingham, one of the architects of the UK vaccine-procurement programme, has since called the remarks “irresponsible”, because the vaccine has been recommended by regulators for use in people of all ages.

Although some 20 million doses of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca, based in Cambridge, UK, and the University of Oxford, UK, have been administered across Europe, a political war of words has erupted over its safety and efficacy. Such interventions risk increasing vaccine hesitancy. Communication on vaccine safety and efficacy must always be handled with extreme care. Last week, more than 20 European countries paused the vaccine’s roll-out for a few days after a very few cases of blood clots were detected in people who had been vaccinated. These were 7 cases of clots in multiple blood vessels (disseminated intravascular coagulation) and 18 cases of clotting known as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis. Among the people affected, nine deaths had been recorded.

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