Both Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel have cast doubts over the efficacy of the Astrazeneca vaccine in over-65s. The French president called the life saving Covid jab “quasi-effective” for the elderly, while the German chancellor initially refused to be inoculated with the vaccine. Both countries have since seen poor uptakes in the British-Swedish vaccine, with the French and German publics seemingly hesitant to trust the Covid jab.
Public trust has been further dented after the French and German governments temporarily suspended the Oxford jab over fears it may be linked to a small number of blood clots reported on the continent.
However, on Thursday the European Medicines Agency (EMA) confirmed that the Astrazeneca Covid jab is still safe to use.
Kate Bingham, who headed up the UK’s Vaccine Taskforce, roundly condemned the behaviour of Europe’s most powerful leaders.
She told the Daily Telegraph: “I would not be happy to have leaders undermining a vaccine that is effective in older people.
“If you’ve got leaders basically saying “I’m not taking that vaccine” – it’s completely irresponsible, there’s no other word for it.”
Ms Bingham was charged by Boris Johnson in May last year with helping the Government find a vaccine.
READ MORE: Boris gives thumbs up after receiving AZ – ‘Let’s get the jab done!’
Thanks to Ms Bingham and her team, the UK has secured vaccine doses from Oxford-AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, GSK/Sanofi and Novavax, as well as from Pfizer- BioNTech and Moderna.
Meanwhile, Europe’s centralised vaccine procurement programme has turned into a shambles, which threatens to lead to even more Covid deaths.
While the UK emerges from its latest and hopefully last lockdown, many European countries are facing the prospect of yet another shutdown as Covid cases continue to surge exponentially.