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Monday, March 1, 2021

UK’s Hancock to EU leaders: Listen to the scientists on Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine

EU leaders who question the efficacy of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab should “listen to the scientists,” according to U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

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He made his comments on Wednesday morning following news that several EU countries won’t recommend the jab for older people, citing limited data. The European Commission approved the vaccine Friday for all adults in the EU after getting the recommendation from the European Medicines Agency.

Moments before the EMA issued its recommendation, French President Emmanuel Macron caused a stir by warning it appeared “quasi-ineffective” in this group.

For its part, the EMA also noted the paucity of clinical-trial data in the over 65s, but still concluded that the evidence supported its approval in providing countries with “another tool” to fight the virus.

Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, suggested Friday that people were confusing lack of data for lack of protection.

Further data from Oxford/AstraZeneca, released Tuesday, shows immunity to the coronavirus climbs in the months after a person receives two doses of the jab. It also showed the first shot alone is 76 percent effective, suggesting delaying the second dose by three months could work. That study has yet to be peer reviewed.

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On the BBC Today program, Hancock seized on those preliminary findings, saying “it does show the world that the Oxford jab works.”

Asked if he was referring to Macron, Hancock said his view is to “listen to the scientists.”

“That’s always been my view all along,” he added.

The evidence supporting the vaccine “was already pretty clear, and with this publication overnight it is absolutely crystal clear … the vaccine not only works but works well,” he added.

France, Sweden, Italy and Germany have restricted its use to under 65s, Poland to under 60s and Belgium to under 55s.

The vaccine has also become the center of a geopolitical storm after AstraZeneca revealed EU deliveries would fall far short of expectations.

Asked if Hancock regretted how much the vaccine has become politicized in Europe, he said: “It would have been far better if we had all worked together all the way through.”

More from …

Helen Collis

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(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by WCT staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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