Did European leaders’ petty Brexit revenge cost lives? Experts suggest Covid hospitalisation rate is WORSE on the continent because of Macron and Merkel’s decision to trash British AZ jab and delay giving it to over-65s

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  • AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot said restricting the AZ jab in older people could explain the new boom
  • Britain’s neighbors are now starting to record high intensive care rates despite having similar case rates
  • Emmanuel Macron was accused of politicizing the AZ jab in January after he trashed it as ‘semi-effective’.

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Europe could face a brutal fourth wave of Covid hospital admissions as it delayed the roll out of the AstraZeneca vaccine to older people, the pharmaceutical giant’s boss suggested today.

AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot said a decision by most major EU countries to restrict the jab earlier in the year could explain why Britain is now recording high intensive care rates despite having similar case numbers to neighboring Britain. are starting.

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Just 67 million doses of AZ have been distributed across the continent, compared to Pfizer’s 440m, although recent studies suggest the Oxford-made jab offers long-term protection against serious disease in older people.

French President Emmanuel Macron was accused of politicizing the roll out of a British-made vaccine in January after he trashed it as ‘semi-effective’ for people over 65 and claimed the UK had It had taken approval of what some described as Brexit bitterness.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel, 66, also added to initial skepticism over the vaccine, saying in February that she would not get the jab because her country’s vaccine regulator infamously recommended at the time that people over the age of 65 should not get the jab. Should be. But Merkel finally got AstraZeneca in April.

EU skepticism about the jab centered around the fact that only two people over the age of 65 caught Covid in AZ’s global trials, out of 660 participants in that age group.

Although the vaccine was eventually re-approved for elderly people in France, Germany and other major EU economies, reputational damage led to vaccine hesitation and many elderly Europeans sought vaccination with Pfizer’s jab . Some, such as Denmark and Norway, stopped using AZ for good.

Today, Mr Soriot said on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘When you look at the UK there was a huge peak of infections but not that many hospitalizations relative to Europe. In the UK this vaccine was used to vaccinate older people, while in Europe people initially believed that this vaccine did not work in older people.

France, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy were among countries that banned the Oxford-made vaccine for use in older people, claiming there was not enough trial evidence to show it was safe and effective. Some European countries later switched all together after low numbers of fatal blood clots were reported.

Studies have shown that AstraZeneca’s jab, which uses more traditional vaccine technology, produces a greater T-cell response in older people than the newer mRNA vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna, which have been favored in Europe .

T-cells, which are more difficult to measure, are thought to provide longer-lasting protection than antibodies that give an initial high boost of protection but also see that defense rapidly fades over time. It falls. mRNA jabs are better at stimulating antibodies.

Even if true, AstraZeneca’s role is likely to be one of many contributing factors to Europe’s fresh wave. The UK stepped up its transitions at the start of the year, releasing all restrictions in July, while the rest of the continent remains under some form of restrictions.

Mobility data shows that Europeans have also socialized more than Britons, whose behavior has remained cautious after the lockdown. And EU countries have gone with a three-week dosing difference between vaccines, compared to the UK’s 12-week space, which has since been shown to provide stronger and longer protection.

and Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, chair of the Joint Committee for Immunization and Immunization (JCVI) – the independent body advising the government on jabbing policy – said today that hospitalization is now ‘largely confined to unvaccinated people’, Which suggests a high level of penetration on the continent. To reduce the intake of the first and second doses may simply be down.

In European countries such as Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and France, the number of patients in intensive care with COVID is increasing and is rising to levels not seen since the beginning of the year. In comparison, the number of patients requiring intensive care in the UK is decreasing

Just 67 million doses of AZ have been distributed across the continent, compared to Pfizer's 67m, although recent studies suggest the UK jab offers long-term protection against serious disease in older people.

Just 67 million doses of AZ have been distributed across the continent, compared to Pfizer’s 67m, although recent studies suggest the UK jab offers long-term protection against serious disease in older people.

Britain was seen as the 'sick man of Europe' in the summer, as its COVID infection rate surpassed that of other countries.  But as the continent approaches winter, many other European countries have seen their case rates ahead by storm.  The UK is testing 10 times more than its EU neighbours, boosting its infection rate

Britain was seen as the ‘sick man of Europe’ in the summer, as its COVID infection rate surpassed that of other countries. But as the continent approaches winter, many other European countries have seen their case rates ahead by storm. The UK is testing 10 times more than its EU neighbours, boosting its infection rate

Mr Soriot said: ‘T-cells matter … this is particularly important for the durability of the response in older people, and this vaccine has been shown to stimulate T-cells to higher levels in older people. is,’ he said.

‘We haven’t seen many hospitalizations in the UK, certainly a lot of infections… but what matters is whether you are seriously ill or not.’

The scientific community had a mixed reaction to Mr. Soriot’s comments today, largely agreeing with his comments on the AstraZeneca jab’s ability to induce a T-cell response, but also highlighting that more research needs to be done in terms of its effectiveness. needs to be done.

Dr Lance Turtle, a specialist in infectious diseases at the University of Liverpool, said that although AstraZeneca provided excellent protection against COVID, it was too early to determine whether the different vaccines were more or less effective.

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