Background: Several countries paused their rollouts of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) vaccine in mid-March 2021 due to concerns about vaccine-induced thrombosis and thrombocytopenia. Many warned that this risked damaging public confidence during a critical period of pandemic response. This study investigated whether the pause in the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine had an impact on subsequent vaccine uptake in European countries. Methods: We used a difference-in-differences approach capitalizing on the fact that some countries halted their rollouts whilst others did not. A longitudinal panel was constructed for European Economic Area countries spanning 15 weeks in early 2021. Media reports were used to identify countries that paused the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and the timing of this. Data on vaccine uptake were available through the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker. Difference-in-differences linear regression models controlled for key confounders that could influence vaccine uptake, and country and week fixed effects. Further models and robustness checks were performed. Results: The panel included 28 countries, with 19 in the intervention group and 9 in the control group. Pausing the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was associated with a 0.52% decrease in uptake for the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and a 1.49% decrease in the uptake for both doses, comparing countries that paused to those that did not. These estimates are not statistically significant (P = 0.86 and 0.39, respectively). For the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine only, the pause was associated with a 0.56% increase in uptake for the first dose and a 0.07% decrease in uptake for both doses. These estimates are also not statistically significant (P = 0.56 and 0.51, respectively). All our findings are robust to sensitivity analyses. Conclusions: As new COVID-19 vaccines emerge, regulators should be cautious to deviate from usual protocols if further investigation on clinical or epidemiological grounds is warranted.
|Number of pages||7|
|Journal||European Journal of Public Health|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Aug 2022|
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Public Health Association.