France and Germany are paying a heavy price for sowing seeds of doubt about the Oxford University vaccine manufactured by AstraZeneca after it emerged massive numbers of people in both countries are refusing it.
France’s president, Emmanuel Macron deepened last month’s bitter dispute between AstraZeneca and the EU when he disputed the vaccine’s effectiveness for the most vulnerable large group, the over 65s.
Just as the ponderous European Medicines Agency was about to approve the life-saving jab, Macron described it as “quasi-ineffective”.
He said. “Today, everything suggests that it is almost ineffective for those over 65, and some say over 60.”
The question mark over the vaccine’s effectiveness originally came from Germany. Newspaper, Handelsblatt claimed the jab was only 8% effective for the over-65s without providing any evidence. The German health ministry then clarified the 8% figure referred to the relatively low percentage of participants drawn from that age group who took part in clinical trials.
Since then, Macron and his cronies have repeatedly slandered the Oxford vaccine and the UK’s approach to immunising its population against Covid.
But Paris and Berlin’s negative spin, for a jab the EU has spent hundreds of millions buying up for its citizens, is coming back to bite them.
France’s poorly performing roll-out is being squeezed on both sides: not enough supply thanks to the EU’s bad purchasing scheme, and low demand due to members of the public refusing the Oxford jab. There are widespread reports of health workers declining the injection.
According to the Mail, only 150,000 doses of the vaccine out of 1.5m, just 10% have been used in Germany.
“The vaccination booths are ready, the vaccine is there and so are the vaccination teams,” said epidemiologist Karl Lauterbach in response to reports vaccination centres only giving out the Oxford jab are being avoided. At one centre in Berlin, just 200 people a day are turning up for their appointments out of almost 4,000.
“But the vaccine remains unused because not enough people show up for the appointment. This is an absurd and unbearable situation,” Lauterbach added.
Berlin’s mayor is threatening to send people to the back of the queue for the rival Pfizer jab, which millions of Germans are now waiting for instead, even though it is harder to transport and supplies are low. “I won’t allow tens of thousands of doses to lie around on our shelves while millions of people across the country are waiting to be immunised,” said Michael Muller.
“Fake news has run rampant, to the point of mass hysteria,” claims Telegraph columnist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard who raises a now infamous case of 37 out of 88 staff members at Braunschweig’s Herzogin-Elisabeth hospital reporting sick the day after getting the jab. The story has spread like wildfire throughout Germany.
Andy yet millions in the UK have been receiving the same injection, with no major reports of ill-effects.
“There is always a fly in the ointment somewhere and people are looking at it with a magnifying glass. It is essential that we vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible,” said Angela Merkel’s vaccine specialist fighting the negative propaganda.
His views are echoed by Carsten Watzl of the German Society for Immunology: “To say that the AstraZeneca vaccine is second rate is completely off the mark, both scientifically and in terms of actual effects.”