Now French and Italian doctors shun Oxford vaccine after EU and Macron ‘managed demand’ by casting doubts on its efficacy – despite backing for jab from WHO and multiple studies
- In France, 149 cases of symptoms were reported by staff with average age of 34
- French authorities have not offered jab at all to those over 65 due to concerns
- Doctors queuing for a jab in Italy demand a dose of the Pfizer vaccine instead
European doctors are snubbing the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine after a concerted EU campaign casting doubts on its effectiveness.
As Brussels missteps in its vaccine procurement process became clear, and it demanded that Astrazeneca ramp up supplies to Europe, French President Emmanuel Macron attempted to ‘manage demand’ for the vaccine by questioning its effectiveness in the over-65s.
‘What I can tell you officially today is that the early results we have are not encouraging for 60 to 65-year-old people concerning AstraZeneca,’ he said.
And the German regulator also raised questions by failing top appove it for the over-65s.
Both statements were based on the relatively small number of over-65s in the original clinical trial of the Oxford vaccine.
But their claims have been debunked by the World Health Organisation last week which officially recommended the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for people over the age of 65 and said it should be used ‘without an upper age limit’.
In France, where anti-vax sentiment is high, 149 cases of ‘high-intensity flu symptoms’ were reported among the 10,000 recipients of the vaccine. No such concerns have been raised int he UK.
Some 10,000 health care personnel have been vaccinated so far, but officials are concerned by the number of patients complaining of aches and high temperatures.
Hospitals and other health facilities have been told to stagger the rollout of jabs so as not to disrupt services, while it has not been offered at all to those over 65 after President Macron said it didn’t appear to work on people in that age bracket.
A health worker administers a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine to a woman at a vaccination center set up in Fiumicino, near Rome’s international airport
European doctors are snubbing the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, claiming it is less effective and that those who’ve received the jab are suffering side effects
France Info, a state news radio station, said health chiefs were ‘trying to avoid receiving AstraZeneca doses, which they regard as third rate compared with ‘the Rolls-Royce’ produced by Pfizer-BioNTech’.
Meanwhile in Italy, private doctors who queued up for jabs were also dismissive of the effect of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab.
Some staff even demanded a Pfizer dose instead, with one doctor who refused the jab offered telling La Stampa: ‘How come they even vaccinated hospital gardeners with more efficient vaccines while us doctors, who risk infection every day or risk infecting others, get offered something less efficient?’
Stocks of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine have been used for Italy’s priority groups of patients, with AstraZeneca doses then being offered to younger people.
Similarly to France, Italian health chief have limited its use to those under 55 due to limited tests on the elderly but also as it estimates effectiveness is at just 59% after two doses.
This compares with estimates of 95% with the Pfizer jab and 94.1% for the Moderna vaccine.
A health spokesman was quoted by the Times as saying: ‘Since Pfizer and Moderna are more efficient, we want to keep them for older, more vulnerable Italians.’