Merkel says NO! German Chancellor rejects Oxford jab – despite 1.2m doses going to waste

Angela Merkel 'stuck to EU rules' on vaccine rollout says expert

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The German Chancellor said she would not take the AstraZeneca jab as under German regulations she would not qualify for it. Germany has banned the use of the Oxford antidote for over-65s, despite the pharmaceutical company proving it is safe to use. Mrs Merkel, 66, was asked if she would take the jab to set an example after it was reported that only 15 percent of the doses sent to her country had been accepted by Germans. 

Just 240,000 doses of the 1.54 million doses received have been used and the German health ministry is now offering the jab to a wider range of priority groups after saying earlier this week that public sector workers such as teachers and police would get priority access.

The effectiveness of the vaccine was first questioned by French President Emmanuel Macron despite the European Medicines Agency (EMA) giving it the green light.

The German Chancellor previously described the Anglo-Swedish drug giant’s vaccine, which some essential workers have refused, as “a reliable vaccine, effective and safe.”

She said: “As long as vaccines are as scarce as they are at the moment, you can’t choose what you want to be vaccinated with.”

President Macron said the vaccine was “quasi-ineffective” to over-65s just a few hours before the jab received the approval of the EMA. 

Since then, the pharmaceutical company has made several attempts to demonstrate the vaccine is indeed safe to use, but across Europe, the damage to its reputation had been done. 

On Wednesday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tried to rescue the situation as she admitted she would happily take the vaccine. 

She said: “I would be vaccinated with the vaccine from AstraZeneca just as safely as with the products from BioNTech/Pfizer or Moderna.

“When we started looking for the most promising out of the hundreds of candidates ten months ago, we assumed an effectiveness of between 50 and 70 percent.

“Now everyone is above that.

“The vaccine has been carefully examined, found to be safe and effective, and approved.”

EU leaders will address the bloc’s vaccination strategy in a videoconference today.

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Earlier this month, research from Scotland found four weeks after receiving the initial dose, the Oxford jab appeared to reduce a person’s risk of hospital admission by up to 94 percent.

The research also showed people who received the Pfizer jab had a reduction in risk of up to 85 percent between 28 and 34 days after the first dose.

Data for the two jabs combined showed among people over the age of 80 – who are at high risk of severe disease – the reduction in risk of hospital admission was 81 percent four weeks after the first dose.

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The majority of older people in the study – who are among those at highest risk of severe disease and death from COVID-19 – were more likely to have had the AstraZeneca jab.

Experts examined COVID-19 hospital admissions in Scotland among people who have had their first jab and compared them to those who had not yet received a vaccine.

Scientists from the universities of Edinburgh, Strathclyde, Aberdeen, Glasgow and St Andrews and Public Health Scotland (PHS) looked at data on people who had received either the Pfizer/BioNTech jab or the one developed by scientists at the University of Oxford with AstraZeneca.

Scientists said the evidence showed the vaccines were “performing incredibly well” and they would anticipate seeing similar results around the UK.

But they said the study did not set out to examine the differences between the two jabs, and stressed a comparison would not be “fair” because the vaccines had been offered to different populations.

Lead researcher Professor Aziz Sheikh, director of the University of Edinburgh’s Usher Institute, said: “These results are very encouraging and have given us great reasons to be optimistic for the future.

“We now have national evidence – across an entire country – that vaccination provides protection against COVID-19 hospitalisations.”

He added: “We are overall very, very impressed with both these vaccines.

“When we move beyond trial circumstances you never know what the results are going to be, but this is out in the field and both are performing incredibly well.”

He said AstraZeneca had “predominantly” been given to the elderly, adding: “At the moment, we don’t have the numbers to do these age-stratified analyses by different vaccine types but we will have those soon.

“But both of these (vaccines) are working spectacularly well, that said, we haven’t done a direct comparison between the two at the moment.”

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