The AstraZeneca vaccine is safe. How can we get people to trust it?

When multiple European countries temporarily suspended distribution, it triggered anxieties around the world. A poll published last week found that only 20 percent of people in France — a country with a high rate of vaccine hesitancy to begin with — trust the AstraZeneca vaccine. Thailand and Indonesia temporarily suspended its use while the E.M.A. investigated the reported side effects. The Democratic Republic of Congo postponed its rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine because of concerns about the reported blood clots. Cameroon also suspended its intention to use the AstraZeneca vaccine, even after the E.M.A. endorsed its safety.

This is bad news. The AstraZeneca vaccine will be crucial for putting Europe, which is now facing a third wave of coronavirus infections, on the road to recovery. It is also crucial for Covax, the global facility that aims to ensure access to Covid-19 vaccines for low and middle-income countries. AstraZeneca and its partnering Serum Institute of India are the biggest providers of vaccines for the initial Covax rollout, aiming to reach 142 countries. But delivery will not be enough if these vaccines aren’t trusted.

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