People in France, Germany, and the UK are turning down the AstraZeneca vaccine because they want the Pfizer one instead, reports say

People in France, Germany, and the UK are turning down the AstraZeneca vaccine because they want the Pfizer one instead, reports say
A box containing vials of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on the start of a vaccination campaign for health workers in France on February 6.ALAIN JOCARD/AFP via Getty Images
  • Some people in France, Germany, and the UK are insisting on a particular coronavirus vaccine.
  • European officials are struggling to give out AstraZeneca's jab, citing concerns about performance.
  • The Washington Post reported that some in the UK preferred AstraZeneca's locally developed vaccine.

People receiving vaccines in the UK, France, and Germany are complicating the rollouts by trying to insist on receiving a particular shot, according to reports.

In continental Europe, officials have pointed to unfilled appointments and empty vaccination hubs when the AstraZeneca vaccine is on offer.

The resistance appears to stem from trial data that suggested AstraZeneca's vaccine was less effective than the one from Pfizer, the other widely used vaccine in Europe.
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In the UK, there are anecdotal reports of some people insisting on the Pfizer jab and others pushing for the AstraZeneca one, citing its local credentials.

Here's what's happening:

In the UK, the picture is more complicated. The Washington Post reported that some Britons were canceling and rebooking vaccination appointments to secure either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca shot based on rumors and insider information about which centers have which doses.
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People in France, Germany, and the UK are turning down the AstraZeneca vaccine because they want the Pfizer one instead, reports say
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson gives a thumbs up as he visits a coronavirus vaccination centre in south-east London on February 14.Jeremy Selwyn-WPA Pool/Getty Images

The outlet reported that some people were insisting on getting the AstraZeneca shot because AstraZeneca is jointly headquartered in the UK and developed its vaccine with the University of Oxford.

A doctor told the BBC on Sunday that while his medical colleagues had a slight preference for Pfizer's vaccine, his patients tended to prefer the Oxford-AstraZeneca "made-in-Britain" vaccine.

Differences in data on efficacy

The dynamic appears to be shaped by data from the phase-three trials of both vaccines.
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Late last year, AstraZeneca announced that its vaccine was 62% effective after two full doses in its trial but 90% effective after a half-dose and a full dose, raising questions about its trials, as Insider's Isabella Jibilian reported.

British regulators now say the vaccine's efficacy is 70%, while the European Medicines Agency says it's 60%, The Post reported.

Compared with the 95% efficacy that Pfizer found in trials of its vaccine, it might seem that the AstraZeneca vaccine does not perform as well.
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But Andrew Pollard, a scientist who led the AstraZeneca vaccine development, told The Post that the figures were not directly comparable.

"Unless you run the trials head-to-head, you don't really know whether a 95 percent figure on trial and 62 percent in another trial mean the same thing," Pollard told The Post.

Results from such a head-to-head trial in the UK should be available soon, Sarah Gilbert, another leader of the vaccine's development, told The Post.
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The UK's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, where Pollard is a lead scientist, has said the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines both "give very high protection against severe disease" and "have good safety profiles."

Pollard told The Post that he would personally "have whichever vaccine offered."

Real-world data in countries where the vaccines have been rolled out, such as Israel and the UK, is starting to provide more clarity on the vaccines' effectiveness.
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