Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, which still hasn’t been approved in the EU, has nevertheless seemingly won the favor of people in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, beating the already available AstraZeneca jab, a study shows.
The Russian jab which is still unavailable to most EU nations, except for Hungary, has been rated almost twice as positively as the AstraZeneca vaccine by people living in three German-speaking countries, an extensive study conducted by the Austrian Institute for Management and Economic Research (IMVF) found.
A team from the institute that analyzes consumer behavior studied more than 250,000 vaccine-related publicly available opinions, including articles published in the media and various social media and blog posts like those on Twitter and Facebook, between January and February 2021.
The analysis showed that the US Pfizer vaccine and the British-Swedish AstraZeneca jab which were already available to Europeans since they were purchased as part of the EU-wide vaccination effort were by far the most discussed. Pfizer received 101,000 mentions during the study period and AstraZeneca got 67,000.
Yet, the discussion about the two vaccines was frequently dominated by their side effects or logistical and delivery problems associated with their distribution. In this regard, people were apparently not very pleased with the British-Swedish vaccine since the number of positive and negative opinions about it was almost equal.
The vaccine’s rating measured on a scale between minus one (totally negative opinion) and plus one (absolutely positive) was just around 0.04 and only slightly rose to 0.06 in late February. Pfizer managed to maintain a more positive image with a score of 0.14. Another US vaccine developed by Moderna also received a similar rating of 0.13.
Russia’s Sputnik V, while not so frequently mentioned, also received a fairly decent score of 0.11. The study’s authors also noted that people in Germany and particularly in Austria tended to view the Russian vaccine in a much more positive light than the media.
The Russian jab was mentioned in social media posts twice as often as in the official media and most positive assessments also came from social media. It also seems that the vaccine garnered more popularity in Austria than in Germany since Austrians mentioned it 40 percent more often than their neighbors to the north.
“There is less skepticism toward the Russian vaccine among the population than the news in the … media suggests,” admitted the managing director of IMWF Austria, Axel Maireder. He also noted that, in the case of yet unapproved vaccines, there is “hardly any debate about side effects and other potentially negative issues” as people tend to focus on the news about their efficacy.
His words are somewhat confirmed by the fact that another vaccine still unavailable to Europeans – the one developed by Johnson & Johnson – has lately caught the interest of the public in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and instantly got a very positive score of 0.18.
Russia’s pioneering vaccine, Sputnik V, was tested on 19,866 volunteers during its Phase III clinical trials which demonstrated its efficacy of more than 91 percent. The jab proved to have an even higher efficacy of almost 92 percent among the 2,144 subjects aged over 60 – and was also 100 percent effective against severe coronavirus cases, data published in the prestigious medical journal Lancet last month showed.
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