Huntsville doctor discusses AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine skepticism

Monday morning, Germany announced a pause on vaccinations using those doses.

Posted: Mar 15, 2021 9:06 PM
Updated: Mar 15, 2021 10:38 PM

Several European countries are restricting the use of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine. Monday morning, Germany announced a pause on vaccinations using those doses.

Italy, France, Ireland, Norway, Denmark, Bulgaria and the Netherlands have announced similar restrictions. They were prompted by an Italian man dying after receiving an AstraZeneca dose.

The European Union is investigating links between AstraZeneca doses and reports of blood clots. Canada's Prime Minister said the country will not pause their AstraZeneca rollout, despite the European concerns.

The vaccine is not yet authorized for use in the United States. However, it is expected to file for emergency use authorization within weeks.

Huntsville Hospital Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Ali Hassoun said since the U.S. has such a complex system to approve vaccinations, if AstraZeneca gets approved, Americans should trust it.

"It's not one agency that will look at the data," Hassoun said. "Several agencies will look at the data."

Hassoun said the United States' authorization process includes almost twice as many steps as Europe. But as some European countries put a pause on rolling out the vaccine, skepticism is growing.

Out of the 17 million people vaccinated in the European Union and Britain, 37 blood clots were reported.

The drugmaker claims there is no evidence the vaccine carries an increased risk of clots.

"Millions of people have got it and it's been shown it's efficacious. For example in England, the majority got the AstraZeneca shot and you see the cases in England have gone down significantly," Hassoun said.

He said if it becomes an option here in the U.S., people should not be afraid to get it.

"I don't think they should be hesitant and again, till now, the data that we have, it really shows it's safe and has the benefit for those who have it," Hassoun said.

Hassoun said it is not unusual to have several different vaccines available, adding there are typically several options every year for a flu vaccine.

"If it's safe and efficacious, the more the better definitely, so we'll have much more options and easier and faster vaccinations," Hassoun said.

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