Despite high-tech advances, many Europeans are wary of taking COVID shots

WARSAW / SOFIA (Reuters) – Europe on Sunday launched a huge COVID-19 vaccination field to try to curb the coronavirus pandemic, but many Europeans are skeptical about the speed with which the vaccines have been tested and approved, and are reluctant to take the plunge to get .

The European Union has signed contracts with a range of drug manufacturers, including Pfizer and BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca, for a total of more than two billion doses and has set a goal of vaccinating all adults next year.

But surveys have shown a high level of hesitation against vaccination in countries from France to Poland, and many are accustomed to vaccines that took decades to develop, not just months.

“I do not think there is a vaccine in history that has been tested so quickly,” said Ireneusz Sikorski, 41, as he walked with his two children from a church in Warsaw.

‘I’m not saying there should be vaccination. But I’m not going to test an unverified vaccine on my children or on myself. ‘

Surveys in Poland, where mistrust in public institutions is high, have shown that for the time being less than 40% of people plan to be vaccinated. On Sunday, only half of the medical staff were admitted to a hospital in Warsaw, where the country’s first shot was fired.

In Spain, a 28-year-old singer and music composer originally from Tenerife, one of Europe’s hardest hit countries is also planning to wait for now.

‘Nobody near me had it (COVID-19). Of course, I’m not saying that it does not exist because many people died from it, but for now I would not have had it (the vaccine). ”

A Christian Orthodox bishop in Bulgaria, where 45% of people said they did not get a chance and 40% plan to wait to see if there are any negative side effects, compares COVID-19 to polio.

Health workers cheer for Mauricette, a 78-year-old French woman, after receiving the first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine in the country, at Rene-Muret Hospital in Sevran, on the outskirts of Paris, France, 27 December 2020. Thomas Samson / Pool via REUTERS

“I have been vaccinated against anything I can be,” Bishop Tihon told reporters after he was shot while standing with the health minister in Sofia.

He talked about anxiety about polio before vaccination became available in the 1950s and 1960s.

‘We were all shaking with fear of catching polio. And then we were delighted, “he said. “Now we have to convince people. That’s a shame. “


The widespread hesitation does not seem to take into account the scientific developments of recent decades.

According to a 2013 study, the traditional method of creating vaccines takes time – the introduction of an attenuated or dead virus, or a piece of it, to stimulate the body’s immune system. One vaccination against pandemic lasted eight years, while a hepatitis B vaccine was almost 18 years in the making.

Moderna’s vaccine, based on the so-called messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) technology, went from no-order to the first human injection in 63 days.

“We will look back on the progress made in 2020 and say, ‘It was a moment when science really made a leap forward,'” said Jeremy Farrar, director of the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit, which is supported. by the Wellcome, said. Confidence.

The Pfizer / BioNTech shot has been linked to some cases of severe allergic reactions as it has been rolled out in the UK and United States. It did not show any serious long-term side effects in clinical trials.

Independent opinion poll Alpha Research said its recent survey suggested that less than one in five Bulgarians from the first groups offered the vaccine – top-notch medicine, pharmacists, teachers and nursing home staff – planning to volunteer to to get a chance.

An IPSOS survey among 15 countries published on 5 November then showed that 54% of French people would have a COVID vaccine if one were available. The figure was 64% in Italy and Spain, 79% in Britain and 87% in China.

A later IFOP poll – which did not have comparative data for other countries – showed that only 41% in France would take the chance.

In Sweden, where public confidence in authorities is as high as elsewhere in the North, more than two out of three people want to be vaccinated. Some say no.

“If someone gives me 10 million euros, I will not take it,” Lisa Renberg, 32, said on Wednesday.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Sunday urged Poland to report for vaccination, saying the herd immunity effect depends on them.

Critics have said that in the past, Warsaw’s nationalist leaders have accepted too much opposition to vaccination in an attempt to garner conservative support.

Additional reporting by Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk in Warsaw, Colm Fulton in Stockholm, Phil Blenkinsop in Brussels and Silvio Castellanos in Madrid; Writing by Justyna Pawlak; Edited by Nick Macfie