Vaccine ‘crisis managed terribly by EU’ says expert
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Just 150,000 of Germany’s 1.5 million doses of the Oxford-produced vaccine had been used on Friday. The delays are significantly hampering Germany’s inoculation plan, which has now fallen drastically behind Britain’s scheme. The UK has vaccinated more than 26 percent of its population, compared to Germany that has delivered jabs to less than six percent.
Only around 200 people are turning up at the Tegel vaccination centre in Berlin, which only administers the AstraZeneca jab, for the 3,800 daily appointments.
The vaccine has also been rejected by health-workers in France, where President Emmanuel Macron previously attempted to discredit the jab.
Politicians across Germany, and most of Europe, have sought to discredit the Oxford jab, which is a key pillar of Britain’s vaccine scheme.
Briefings in Germany have questioned the vaccine’s efficacy and, alongside many other EU states, officials opted against delivering the shot to over-65s.
This comes despite the European Medicines Agency having approved the vaccine for use in all adults.
Karl Lauterbach, a Social Democrat MP and epidemiologist, said: “The vaccination booths are ready, the vaccine is there and so are the vaccination teams.
“But the vaccine remains unused because not enough people show up for their appointment. this is an absurd and unbearable situation.”
Experts have called for the Oxford jab to be offered to given to anyone who will have it, even if they fall outside the current priority groups receiving vaccines.
Leif-Erik Sander, of the Charite hospital in Berlin, said: “Under no circumstances should a situation arise in which we leave vaccine doses unused or in which the progress of the vaccination campaign is clearly delayed because people do not take up their vaccination offer.”
Senior politicians have launched attacks on Britain’s vaccine strategy, which delays the second dose for three months.
Evidence from the UK, and backed by experts at the WHO, shows the delay does nothing to impact efficacy of jabs.
But the policy, which is aimed at ensuring more people have a level of protection with one dose, remains under attack in Germany.
Politicians have also criticised Britain for its quick-fire approval, which has been months fasher than the green-light given by EU regulators.
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German virologist Christian Drosten said: “When I look at the public discussion in Germany, a lot has been misunderstood.”
EU states have turned on the Oxford jab after a furious row between Anglo-Swedish AstraZeneca over the delivery of vaccines.
The UK-based announced it would not send tens of millions of doses to the bloc because of production hiccups.
Michael Muller, the mayor of Berlin, has warned people could be sent to the back of the queue if they refuse the Oxford jab in favour of the more popular Pfizer vaccine.
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He said: “I won’t allow tens of thousands of doses to lie around on our shelves while millions of people across the country are waiting to be immunised.
“Those who don’t want the vaccine have missed their chance.”
Similar has happened in Belgium, where the Oxford jab is not being given to over-55s despite authorisation to do so.
Healthcare workers are protesting against being given the AstraZeneca vaccine.
A nurse in a Flemish hospital told the Het Laatste News newspaper: “If it turns out that we will be vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine, we will go on strike.”
And in France healthcare workers have made similar decisions to turn down the AstraZeneca vaccine.
This is because of its portrayal as a cheap and inferior jab compared to the mRNA vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna.
Jerome Marty, a GP and French doctors’ union chief, said: “It’s all about balance between risk and benefit.
“We know that this vaccine is less effective than the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna ones.”
President Emmanuel Macron has personally attacked the Oxford jab, branding it “quasi-ineffective for people over 65”.
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