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EU leaders admit AstraZeneca jab ‘very efficient’ amid Covid vaccine rollout chaos

Vaccine: Gondolier gives update on situation in Italy

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Jean Castex, the French Prime Minister, had admitted the AstraZeneca vaccine is “very efficient” following more data showing its efficacy in those over 65-years-old. France and Germany’s medical authorities refused to authorise the jab for those over 65 over “insufficient evidence”.

France’s Prime Minister made the remarks in a press conferences yesterday, where he praised the AstraZeneca vaccine as equally efficient as the EU’s other approved jabs.

The jab has also been approved for those aged between 65 and 74 years in France.

President Emmanuel Macron previously described the jab as “quasi-effective” due to inconclusive data.

He has since backtracked on the comments, and said he would take the jab himself.

France has administered a total of 4,839,444 vaccine doses, according to Our World In Data.

Germany has also backtracked on their initial ruling on AstraZeneca, now approving the vaccine for over-65s.

Chancellor Angela Merkel had called on the country’s independent vaccine committee to change course due to new data from a Scottish government study, which showed AstraZeneca’s jab reduced the risk of COVID-19 related hospitalisation by 94 percent after the first dose.

Jens Spahn, the country’s health minister, said: “This is good news for any elderly person waiting to be vaccinated. They can now be vaccinated faster.”

As of Monday, Germany had only been able to administer 514,000 of the 3.2m jabs delivered by AstraZeneca.

Germany has reached 6,813,173 doses of vaccine administered, according to Our World in Data.

It comes after Italy blocked a shipment of 250,000 AstraZeneca vaccines bound for Australia, becoming the first EU country country to enact export controls on coronavirus jabs.

Italy and the European Commission signed off on blockade as part of its vaccine export transparency scheme, where EU-based vaccine makers must secure approval from national health authorities before shipping their jabs abroad.

Australia has called on the European Commission to review Italy’s block, while a spokesman Health Minister Greg Hunt reassured the country had enough supply.

They said: “The first international shipment already arrived which takes us through to the commencement of domestic CSL supplies. This is one shipment from one country.

“Domestic production starts with one million per week of deliveries from late March and is on track.”

David Davis, former Brexit Secretary, branded the block as “disgraceful behaviour”.

He said to The Telegraph: “It comes at the end of a period where it took them a long time to approve the vaccine, then some of their leaders questioned the value of the vaccine, and it looks likely they wasted the vaccine as a result of that because of an uptake shortfall.

“And now this. I’m afraid the EU is putting at risk the goodwill of the rest of the world.

“It is disgraceful behaviour and sad, really, because they are our friends and allies.”

The UK has administered 20,982,571 first doses and 963,862 second doses of coronavirus vaccine as of Wednesday, according to the Government’s website.

Yesterday saw another 278,956 doses of vaccine administered to Brits, meaning 31.4 percent have had at least one dose.

Another 6,573 cases and 242 deaths within 28 days of a positive test were recorded yesterday.

In total, the UK has recorded 4,201,358 cases and 124,025 deaths.

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