Pharmacist Barbara Violo shows off a vile of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the Junction Chemist during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Friday, March 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Pharmacist Barbara Violo shows off a vile of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the Junction Chemist during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Friday, March 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Officials face battle of confidence over Canada’s use of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine

Unfounded doubts about efficacy, safety will see some people have a hard time accepting updated advice

Federal officials are mounting a renewed push to instill Canadian confidence in Oxford-AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, but observers predict they’re in for a tough battle.

Members of the federal body tasked with advising the country on vaccine use took the unusual step of addressing public fears in a televised press conference Tuesday that stressed the vaccine’s safety for those over the age of 65.

The assurances come as new information leads to an update on previous advice, which initially suggested that seniors avoid the AstraZeneca vaccine because of insufficient trial data. NACI chair Dr. Caroline Quach-Thanh says there is now enough “real-world evidence” to show it is both safe and effective for seniors.

Infectious disease doctor Zain Chagla says it’s an important message, but confusing for Canadians as Germany and other European countries move to limit the vaccine’s use while they investigate reports of blood clots emerging after some inoculations.

The European Medicines Agency says there is no evidence of a safety concern and is “firmly convinced” that the benefits of the AstraZeneca shot outweigh the risks.

But Chagla says unfounded doubts about efficacy and safety have been deeply sown and some people will have a hard time accepting updated advice.

Reached earlier this week as he anticipated NACI’s revised guidelines, he noted the AstraZeneca product has been hit especially hard in recent weeks, on multiple fronts.

“Even if all of the dust settles on all of this stuff and it’s (proven) effective in 65-year-olds and it’s actually 80 per cent effective and there’s no clot risk, you’ve already introduced three strikes that are hard to wash away from people who are already hesitant to take this vaccine over Moderna and Pfizer,” Chagla, a specialist at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton.

Chagla said it’s up to NACI, Health Canada, and the various provincial health ministries to be transparent and clear on the evidence.

“This needs to be aggressively put out and people need to be really, really, really transparent, open and honest about this.”

Coronavirusvaccines

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Volunteers from Semiahmoo Secondary joined with members of the Lower Mainland Green Team and the White Rock and South Surrey Naturalists Wednesday to remove invasive plants from White Rock’s Ruth Johnson Park in March. (Contributed photo)
Green Team, South Surrey students mark Earth Day with invasive plant removal

Volunteers to be on site at White Rock’s Ruth Johnson Park

rcmp
South Surrey neighbours’ calls to police lead to break-and-enter arrest

‘Prime example’ of RCMP and public working together, constable says

Members of the Wheeling 8’s dance group go on a roll at Surrey’s Chuck Bailey Recreation Centre in 2018, during the club’s 45th-anniversary event. If not for the pandemic, such activities could be socially prescribed as part of a new program involving Fraser Health and DiverseCity Community Resources Society. (File photo: Tom Zillich)
‘Social prescriptions’ connect Surrey seniors to activities and other services they need

Fraser Health-backed program involves GP referrals to a Seniors’ Community Connector with DiverseCity

Linda Annis, Aug. 12, 2020. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Annis wants independent auditor general for Surrey

‘Surrey taxpayers deserve the best possible oversight of the tax dollars they send to city hall,’ Surrey councillor says

SkyTrain’s end of the line, for now, in Whalley. (File photo)
Provincial budget watchers lament no mention of Surrey SkyTrain expansion

But $1.66 billion is earmarked for a second hospital for Surrey, in Cloverdale

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

Thousands have converged in Whonnock Lake Park to enjoy the nice weather. (Roxanne Hooper/The News)
Thousands enjoy B.C. park with warnings about social distancing

Portable toilets installed in anticipation of nice weather

FILE – The Instagram app is shown on an iPhone in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Judge acquits B.C. teen boy ‘set up’ on sex assault charge based on Instagram messages

The girl and her friends did not have ‘good intentions’ towards the accused, judge says

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Kai Palkeinen recently helped a car stuck on the riverbed near the Big Eddy Bridge. While the car could not be saved, some of the driver’s belongings were. It’s common for vehicles to get stuck in the area due to significantly changing river levels from Revelstoke Dam. (Photo by Kai Palkeinen)
“I just sank a car’: Revelstoke resident tries to save vehicle from the Columbia River

Although it’s not permitted, the riverbed near the city is popular for off roading

Playland at the PNE is set to reopen this May, with COVID-19 health and safety measures approved by the province. (Website/Playland)
VIDEO: Playland at PNE scheduled to reopen this May to masked customers

British Columbians are discouraged from travelling outside of their local health authority to visit the theme park

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, walks down the street with an acquaintance after leaving B.C. Supreme Court during a lunch break at her extradition hearing, in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, April 1, 2021. A judge is scheduled to release her decision today on a request to delay the final leg of hearings in Meng Wanzhou’s extradition case. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rich Lam
B.C. judge grants Meng Wanzhou’s request to delay extradition hearings

Lawyers for Canada’s attorney general had argued there is no justification to delay proceedings in the case

B.C. Premier John Horgan announces travel restrictions between the province’s regional health authorities at the legislature, April 19, 2021. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sees 862 more COVID-19 cases Wednesday, seven deaths

Recreational travel restrictions set to begin Friday

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson is photographed following her budget speech in the legislative assembly at the provincial legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. budget lacks innovative drive, vision during uncertain times, say experts

Finance Minister Selina Robinson’s budget sets out to spend $8.7 billion over three years on infrastructure

Most Read