4 News Now Q&A: Can the AstraZeneca COVID vaccine be trusted?

Your Questions Answered

Q: Can the AstraZeneca COVID vaccine be trusted? 

A: As more people around the nation and here in the Inland Northwest get vaccinated, the potential for a fourth shot in the United States is still a big question mark. AstraZeneca’s vaccine is already authorized in most European countries, but its journey has been anything but smooth.

Early on, the company’s efficacy claims were confusing, and over the past few weeks, the waters got particularly choppy.

More than 20 European countries suspended use of the shots when more than a dozen recently vaccinated people developed unusual clotting disorders. And just this week, the company released data from its U.S. trial, saying the shot is 79 percent effective against symptomatic COVID. But days later, it revised that number slightly to 76 percent.

Some experts are reassured by the update, and other think we should be focusing on a different figure altogether.

We turned to ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton to help clear things up.

“As we’ve been saying from the beginning, different data and points will have different numbers, and people shouldn’t necessarily get bogged down in the number that they hear in a headline,” Dr. Ashton said. “It’s really the deep dive that’s important when you hear 100 percent effective against preventing hospitalizations. That’s a big deal; that’s going to save lives. That’s going to help the population where this vaccine is given.”

“But remember how things play out in other countries and in other parts of the world. We do things differently here. And to get FDA authorization, that is considered the global gold standard. So we have to look at the data under a microscope and there are still a lot of gaps and unanswered questions in terms of this particular vaccine,” Dr. Ashton said.

Health experts believe if and when the vaccine does get authorization, the U.S. is projected to already have enough vaccines for every single adult in the country.

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