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

COVID-19 numbers continue to rise in the Kootenays. Illustration: BC Centre for Disease Control
Highest weekly number of new COVID-19 cases in 2021 for Nelson

The Nelson local health area had 13 new cases in early April

ANKORS held a small demonstration outside Nelson City Hall and the courthouse Wednesday to mark the five-year anniversary of the province declaring the toxic drug supply crisis. Photo: Tyler Harper
‘We’re all supposed to take care of each other’: 5 years of toxic drug supply crisis marked in Nelson

Over 7,000 people have died in B.C. since the crisis was announced in 2016

An Interior Health nurse administers Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16, 2021. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
105 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

Just over 8,000 new vaccine doses administered in the region for a total of 158,000 to date

School District 8 says a COVID-19 exposure has occurred at Nelson’s Rosemont Elementary. Photo: School District 8
Class at Nelson’s Rosemont Elementary in isolation after COVID-19 exposure

It’s not clear if any students or teachers were infected

Commercial trucks head south towards the Pacific Highway border crossing Wednesday (April 14, 2021). The union representing Canadian border officers wants its members to be included on the frontline priority list for the COVID-19 vaccine. (Aaron Hinks photo)
CBSA officers’ union calls for vaccine priority in B.C.

Border officers at ports including South Surrey’s Pacific Highway should ‘not be left behind’

Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply on 5th anniversary of overdose emergency declaration

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 1, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps to 1,168 Wednesday, nearly 400 in hospital

Now 120 coronavirus patients in intensive care, six more deaths

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

Moss covered branches are seen in the Avatar Old Growth Forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. blockades aimed at protecting old-growth forests reveal First Nation split

Two Pacheedaht chiefs say they’re ‘concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities’ in the territory

Richmond RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng said, in March, the force received a stand-out number of seven reports of incidents that appeared to have “racial undertones.” (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
‘Racially motivated’ incidents on the rise in B.C’s 4th largest city: police

Three incidents in Richmond are currently being invested as hate crimes, says RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng

A still from the video taken of a violent arrest on May 30, 2020 in downtown Kelowna. (File)
Kelowna Mountie charged with assault for caught-on-camera violent arrest

Const. Siggy Pietrzak was filmed punching a suspected impaired driver at least 10 times during an arrest

A screenshot from a Nuu-chah-nulth healing song and performance created in collaboration between Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso. (Screenshot from YouTube)
VIDEO: Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation brothers produce COVID-19 healing song

Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso share dance and inspiration.

Most Read