54% of Germans Agree With AstraZeneca Suspension, After Country Started Trend to Halt Shot

A majority of Germans agree with suspending the AstraZeneca vaccine, after the country became one of the first to halt the shot over safety concerns regarding severe blood clots, according to a new poll.

The survey, which was conducted by the German polling company Forsa, found that 54 percent of respondents said they agreed with the decision by Health Minister Jens Spahn to temporarily halt the vaccine.

In contrast, nearly 40 percent said the action was excessive, while 39 percent believed it was wrong, Reuters reported.

The survey also found that the overall willingness for German's to be vaccinated has dropped by two percentage points, from 73 percent to 71 percent, since March 3. If the AstraZeneca vaccine were to be reinstated in Germany, 63 percent of respondents said they would be willing to receive the shot.

The poll was released on Wednesday, and surveyed 1,001 German respondents with a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

The results of the survey came after Germany created a domino effect across Europe to suspend the AstraZeneca vaccine over unconfirmed suspicions that the inoculation could lead to fatal blood clotting.

On Monday, Germany announced it would temporarily suspend the shot after a vaccine watchdog found seven cases of a rare brain blood clot among 1.6 million people who were given the injection in the country, Reuters reported. Three of the cases had been fatal.

In total, there have been 37 reports of blood clotting out of more than 17 million people vaccinated with the shot in the European Union (EU) and Britain.

54 percent of Germans agree with the country's suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine over concerns that the shot could lead to blood clotting. Here, nurse Susann Rettberg handles a vial of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in Saxony during the coronavirus pandemic on March 15, 2021 in Dippoldiswalde, Germany. Jens Schlueter/Getty Images

After Germany decided to halt the vaccine, a cascade of other European countries followed – including some of the European Union's (EU) largest member states Italy, France and Spain. As of Wednesday, a total of 17 European nations had followed in Germany's footsteps.

The AstraZeneca vaccine, which was created by British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, was first approved for use in the U.K. in December and across the European Union the following month.

Now the temporary suspension of the shot has created a lag in Europe's vaccine numbers and stowed division across the continent. Some countries, such as Poland and Belgium, have said they will continue to administer the shot and have accused the suspension of being based off of "disinformation."

Numerous scientific bodies—including the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Medicines Agency (EMA), and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)—have also stressed that there is no evidence of a link between the vaccine and blood-clotting incidents.

Scientists and doctors across the country have pleaded with nations to reinstate the vaccine over concerns that failing to do so will severely pushback efforts to tame the virus.

"We need this vaccine," said German virologist Christian Drosten before citing forecasts of a resurgence in infection without the inoculation on his podcast, Reuters reported.

The EMA, which is conducting an ongoing investigation of the vaccine, is expected to release updated results about its safety on Thursday. But the agency's head, Emer Cooke, said Tuesday that she was "firmly convinced" the rewards of the vaccine will exceed the risks.

"Currently, we are still firmly convinced that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine in preventing COVID-19, with its associated risk of hospitalization and death, outweigh the risks of these side effects," Cooke said.

On Tuesday, AstraZeneca defended its vaccine by directing Newsweek to a company statement, in which it said that "the safety of all is our first priority."

"We are working with national health authorities and European officials and look forward to their assessment later this week," the company added. "Around 17 million people in the EU and U.K. have now received our vaccine, and the number of cases of blood clots reported in this group is lower than the hundreds of cases that would be expected among the general population."