Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Confetti is fired into the crowd as Circus Nightclub hosts the first dance event, which will welcome 6,000 clubbers to the city's Bramley-Moore Dock warehouse on April 30, 2021 in Liverpool, England. The event is part of the national Events Research Programme which will provide data on how events could be permitted to safely reopen.

Anthony Devlin/Getty Images

When 6,000 partygoers crowded into Liverpool’s Circus Nightclub over two days last weekend, no one had to wear a face mask or physically distance as they gyrated on the giant dance floor.

The gigs were the latest step in Britain’s gradual return to normal and further proof of the effectiveness of the country’s COVID-19 vaccination program, which has been built around the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab.

While health officials in many countries, including Canada, have voiced reservations about the AstraZeneca vaccine because of its potential connection to rare blood clots, Britain has stood by the shot and kept it at the forefront of its inoculation drive. If anything, public support for vaccines has increased as the number of people immunized rises above 50 per cent and hope soars that all lockdown restrictions will be lifted.

Story continues below advertisement

In recent weeks “more people have seen the news about the rare cases of blood clots but it hasn’t affected overall [vaccine] sentiment,” said Bobby Duffy, director of the policy institute at King’s College London, which has been studying the public’s attitude toward vaccines. “In fact we’ve seen an increase in people’s certainty to get a vaccine.”

Dr. Duffy said one reason for the strong acceptance has been the success of the vaccine rollout. “The speed with which it has happened and the fact that very little has come up in terms of side-effect issues is giving people a lot more faith,” he said. “There are very few people who are saying definitely no to the AstraZeneca vaccine.”

Britain has bet heavily on this vaccine, which was developed last year in conjunction with scientists at the University of Oxford. The government invested £88-million ($154-million) to produce it and Britain was the first country to authorize its use.

The AstraZeneca vaccine has become the cornerstone of the government’s immunization effort, which has been among the fastest in the world. More than 26 million doses of the AstraZeneca jab had been administered as of April 21, according to figures released last week by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). That represented 59 per cent of all vaccinations, which also included shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.

The MHRA said it had received reports of 209 cases and 41 deaths involving cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, or CVST, a rare condition that occurs when clots form in veins that drain blood from the brain. All of the cases occurred in people who had received the AstraZeneca vaccine and the tally had increased from 168 cases and 32 deaths in mid-April. The agency said the risk level had increased to 9.3 cases for every one million doses, from 7.9 per million.

The MHRA and other health officials have insisted that the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh any risks. However, the government has recommended that people under the age of 30 should be offered an alternative vaccine, if available.

Unlike several countries in Europe, Britain did not pause its use of the AstraZeneca vaccine and the government has been consistent in urging people to get the jab. Canada, by contrast, has offered mixed messages. This week the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines over AstraZeneca’s because of the blood clot concerns. That went against Health Canada’s advice, which advised that Canadians should take the first vaccine they are offered.

Story continues below advertisement

Bill Graham, who helps run a vaccination clinic northwest of Leeds, said public reaction to the blood clot reports in Britain has been muted and he’s seen little reluctance in the take-up of the vaccine. “There’s been virtually none,” Mr. Graham said Wednesday when asked about any hesitancy. “When [AstraZeneca] is in the news, out of a day clinic of 600 people, we might have one to five refusals.”

Tom White, a retired doctor in Yorkshire who has volunteered as a vaccinator, said only a few people have failed to show up for appointments for the AstraZeneca jab. “Overall the vaccine program here seems to have been going pretty well,” he added.

A study released last week by Dr. Duffy’s group at King’s College found there had been only a slight increase in the number of people who said they didn’t want the AstraZeneca vaccine and the vast majority of those surveyed said they had no preference. The study, which involved nearly 5,000 people, also found that 81 per cent of respondents believed that all vaccines were safe. That was up from 73 per cent in a similar survey in December.

There’s ample evidence that the immunization program is working. The number of daily infections and deaths from the virus fell to 2,144 and 27 respectively on Wednesday. That compared to more than 60,000 infections and 1,500 deaths some days in January when a new variant of the virus began to sweep across the country.

The government has grown confident enough to announce that much of the economy will reopen on May 17, when people will be allowed to dine indoors at pubs and restaurants and take holidays abroad. If all goes well, nearly all pandemic restrictions will be lifted by the end of June. A pilot program to test whether large crowds can return to sports events, nightclubs, theatres and festivals has also reportedly gone well although final results will only be released in a few weeks.

“The data on the vaccines is getting ever more encouraging,” Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London, told the BBC this week. He and other health experts said fears of another wave occurring this summer as restrictions ease have largely faded.

Story continues below advertisement

The infection rate would have to be much higher before hospitals became overwhelmed, said Dr. Ferguson. ”And we think that it’s actually unlikely to happen unless a variant comes along which resets that relationship again,” he said.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies