In Focus

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine

Jewel in the crown of the UK jab campaign has faced harsh scrutiny in Europe

1

Blame game?

European scepticism

Even the most ardent supporter of the government would struggle to deny that the UK’s pandemic response has had its fair share of low points. But in one regard the country has streaked ahead of its neighbours: vaccinations.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is the jewel in the crown of the jab rollout that has so far seen more than 30 million people receive at least one dose.

But despite the positive data emerging from the UK, the Oxford University-developed jab has repeatedly faced criticism and suspicion from European nations.

2

US VS AZ

Fresh concerns raised in US

As scrutiny of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine continues to dominate headlines in Europe, US health officials have waded into the row to raise fresh doubts about the jab.

In what The Wall Street Journal describes as the “latest misstep by the British drug giant”, AstraZeneca has been left scrambling to update its efficacy data after the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) “took the rare move of publicly questioning” the accuracy of the company’s human trials.

The US government health agency issued a statement saying that the independent Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) had found that AstraZeneca “may have included outdated information” that “may have provided an incomplete view of the efficacy data”.

3

Fear factor

Trust in vaccine falls in Europe

Confidence in the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccine has plummeted across Europe after a host of European governments suspended its use, a survey has found.

Polling by YouGov found that more than half of respondents in France, Germany and Spain now believe the vaccine to be unsafe – even after all three nations later reversed their decision to stop using the UK-developed vaccine.

In France, 61% of respondents said the vaccine was unsafe, an increase of 18 percentage points from February, while 55% of Germans and 52% of Spanish people felt the same way. Figures collected elsewhere are no more promising, with 43% of Italians saying that they also feel the vaccine is not safe for use.

4

glimmer of hope

UK cases in decline

A single dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine may have a “substantial effect” on curbing the spread of Covid-19 and provide sustained protection against the virus for at least three months, a new study has found.

Test results from the University of Oxford published in a pre-print report in The Lancet show that the first shot may reduce transmission among people who have had the jab by 67% while providing an average of 76% protection against symptomatic infections from three weeks until 90 days.

In a finding that appears to support the UK’s decision to delay second doses, the research also indicates “that spacing out the second dose by a longer period in fact further increases its efficacy”, reports Politico’s London Playbook.

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