France and Germany are poised to make stunning U-turns over their costly accusations that the Oxford jab is less effective for the over-65s, which have led to widespread hysteria, particularly in Germany, contributing to low take-up rates of the Covid vaccine.
The situation was already dire due to the European Commission’s failure to procure enough vaccine for the bloc. The incorrect claims that it did not work for pensioners was even more disastrous given that they are one of the groups most vulnerable to Covid 19 and by far the biggest. Both France and Germany have ageing populations.
French President Emmanuel Macron appeared to have dropped the biggest clanger in claiming last month that the jab manufactured by AstraZeneca was “quasi-ineffective” – he declined to offer any evidence. But he was to be outdone when on Wednesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would not accept the jab, but ordered her people to take it if it was offered by their local immunisation centre.
Both countries have had to deal with dramatic collapses in acceptance of the Oxford injection, which is cheaper, easier to transport and often more widely available, although stocks are still low compared to the UK, which has inoculated four times as many people. Astonishingly, Morocco is now jabbing at a faster rate than Germany.
Last week, it was reported only 200 people at a vaccination centre in Berlin turned up for their injections out of almost 4,000 slots booked. Stories in France of healthcare workers rejecting the Covid jab developed at Oxford University have been rife.
Following Frau Merkel’s unbelievable refusal to take the jab – she has a doctorate in chemistry – causing vaccine panic on the Continent to reach its peak, Paris and Berlin decided to go into reverse gear as both countries face climbing Covid infection rates – Dunkirk in northern France is reporting 900 infections per 100,000 compared to less than 200 in Britain.
On Friday, Macron said that unlike Merkel, he would take the Oxford jab.
“If that’s the vaccine that’s offered to me, I will take it, of course,” he said.
Now Germany is poised to amend its official guidance after Thomas Mertens, head of the country’s vaccine committee told TV channel ZDF it was “possible” the government would repeal the ban on the over-65s getting the injection. According to the British Medical Journal, four different clinical trials of the Oxford jab all found it to be highly effective for everyone above the age of eighteen.
“The whole thing has somehow gone wrong,” Mertens admitted.
It seems France is finally looking at the data. Alain Fischer, head of the country’s vaccine strategy council has said they will “re-adjust” their approach after a new study revealed hospital admissions plummeted following widespread use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca formula.
It seems Fischer got the breakthrough information from an NHS study in England which compared hospitalisation rates among those who have been inoculated with the Oxford jab compared to those who have not. The study found that the Oxford vaccine was more effective in preventing serious illness among the over-70s than the alternative made by Pfizer BioNTech, for which the scientists observed a 90% drop in hospitalisations.