Norway is completely dependent on strong support for a covid-19 vaccine to stop the ongoing epidemic and the first vaccine doses may be in place as early as the winter of 2021. However, a recent survey shows that 4 out of 10 Norwegians will not take a vaccine now.
Researcher at the Department of Immunology and Transfusion Medicine at the University of Oslo (UiO), Gunnveig Grødeland, has decided that she will take a covid-19 vaccine.
– Yep, Grødeland answers in cash when she gets the same question as the participants in the Ipsos survey.
– It is simply because I know that the probability of side effects is basically low with the vaccine types chosen. I think the results are due to the fact that they were asked to get vaccinated next week. Many people know that the leading vaccine candidates are still in phase three, and that it will take time to complete and analyze this data, she tells Dagbladet.
Anne Spurkland, an immunologist and professor at the Department of Basic Medical Sciences at UiO, will also take a covid-19 vaccine.
– I am willing to take a vaccine against covid-19, but I know that it is not possible to complete a vaccine next week. That is why I also understand the answers to the population. If one is to take a vaccine against covid-19 next week, it must in that case be as a trial participant for a vaccine candidate in phase three, Spurkland tells Dagbladet.
The survey was conducted by Ipsos on behalf of Dagbladet, and 926 people participated. The results show that 49 percent answer that they are willing to take a vaccine against covid-19 if it becomes available next week. 39 percent answer that they are not willing to do so, while 12 percent are unsure.
The experts agree that the main reason for the results of the survey is probably that the population knows that there will not be a vaccine that is approved for use on the population until next week.
Spurkland mentions two other possible causes of uncertainty: development speed and Donald Trump.
– It takes time to develop a vaccine. Previously, the fastest vaccine has been developed in four years, while now a vaccine will be developed over months. Experts in the field refer to this as express speed. And precisely this speed of development can create uncertainty among the population, says Spurkland and continues:
– Processes seen in other countries can also create uncertainty. For example, concerns have been expressed that Donald Trump may influence the health authorities to urgently approve a vaccine to win the election, without a solid professional basis.
In another recent Ipsos survey, 28 percent of the population say it is unlikely or unlikely that they will take a covid-19 vaccine when it becomes available. Among them, 64 percent answered that they are worried about any side effects.
– It is probably because many have realized that the AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine was put on hold due to possible side effects in one of the trial participants, says Grødeland.
However, she points out that this is a completely normal procedure in such clinical studies, and considers it a sign of quality. Following an independent investigation, AstraZeneca was given the green light by the British Medicines Agency to resume vaccine testing.
Grødeland says that the other reason for concern about side effects may be that Scandinavia was affected by side effects of the swine flu vaccine in 2009.
– Thus, many may be left with the feeling that it can happen again. But exactly that can not happen with the vaccine against this coronavirus, because this was a side effect of the swine flu virus itself. Therefore, I can say that the types of vaccines we have chosen now are probably very safe, says Grødeland and elaborates:
– The Covid-19 vaccines contain only bits of virus which means that you have very good control over where the immune response is directed, which makes it possible to assess what possible side effects may occur.
Grødeland and Spurkland also completely agree on what is needed to increase confidence in a covid-19 vaccine among Norway’s population.
– The most important thing the Norwegian health authorities can do to increase confidence in the covid-19 vaccines is to inform about what effect they have, and what we know and do not know about them. So far, we know little about the effect of the various vaccines, but it is being studied right now, says Grødeland.
Spurkland believes that this will have a significant effect.
– I believe that people’s confidence in a covid-19 vaccine will be significantly higher the moment there is more information that the vaccine has a protective effect against the disease. The health authorities must then communicate this information in order to increase the population’s confidence in the vaccine.