Macron claims Oxford Covid vaccine ‘almost ineffective’ for over-65s…as EU approve jab

EU slammed by Martin Daubney on coronavirus vaccine rollout

The AstraZeneca jab, which was developed with Oxford University, has already started being rolled out across the UK. But the pharmaceutical company has been embroiled in an explosive dispute with the bloc over recent days due to delays with the distribution of the vaccine.

Now, French President Emmanuel Macron has lashed out at the company claiming the inoculation is “almost ineffective” in those over the age of 65 – as the EU gave the green light for the use of the jab in all adults.

Mr Macron said: “The real problem with AstraZeneca is just that it doesn’t work as expected, because there we have very little information.

“Today, everything suggests that it is almost ineffective for this cover 65, and some say over 60.”

The European Medicines Agency later said: “There are not yet enough results in older participants (over 55 years old) to provide a figure for how well the vaccine will work in this group.

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“However, protection is expected, given that an immune response is seen in this age group and based on experience with other vaccines; as there is reliable information on safety in this population, EMA’s scientific experts considered that the vaccine can be used in older adults.”

Germany’s health minister Jens Spahn advised the jab not to be given to over 65s as there is “insufficient data”.

Mr Spahn said: “We still have some difficult weeks of vaccine shortages ahead of us.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson hit back at claims the jab should not be used in over-65s.

He said: “This is a vaccine that our own MHRA (regulators) have said produces an immune response in all age groups and is a good vaccine. So I’m very confident in it.”

The AstraZeneca vaccine was approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in December.

It was approved for use for people 18 years or older and consists of two doses.

MHRA Chief Executive Dr June Raine said: “This approval means more people can be protected against this virus and will help save lives.

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“We will continue to support and work across the healthcare system to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines are rolled out safely across the UK.”

Today the European Medicines Agency (EMA) also approved the vaccine and said it was 60 percent effective in the trials which based its decision.

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot welcomed the decision: “Today’s recommendation underscores the value of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine which is not only effective and well-tolerated, but also easy to administer and, importantly, protects fully against severe disease and hospitalisations.”

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said: “Securing safe vaccines for Europeans is our utmost priority. With the AstraZeneca vaccine now authorized, 400 million additional doses will be available in Europe.

“I expect the company to deliver these doses as agreed, so that Europeans can be vaccinated as soon as possible.

“We will continue doing all we can to secure more vaccines for Europeans, our neighbours and our partners worldwide.”

It comes amid a row between the bloc and the company over whether AstraZeneca broke its vaccine delivery commitments to the EU.

Ms von der Leyen accused the company of misrepresenting its contract with the bloc.

She said: “In the contracts, two production facilities in Great Britain are also mentioned, which are intended for the production of the vaccine for the EU.

“How you manage it is up to you.

“There are binding orders and the contract is crystal clear.

“The phrase ‘best effort’ does not exist.

“There are clear delivery quantities that are in the contract.

“What irritated us was that, unlike the other companies, AstraZeneca very suddenly announced that was drastically reducing its agreed deliveries for the first quarter and did not provide understandable reasons why.

“Now we want clarity on that.”

This week, Mr Soriot responded to why the EU had experienced delays.

In an interview with La Repubblica, he said: “When we entered the agreement with Oxford, they had already been working with the UK Government on this.

“So that had a head start. We were able to quite quickly take the UK supply chain and improve it.

“We had to modify the formula in the process because Oxford gave us a process that needed to be modified to enable manufacturing at scale.”

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