Politics

EU’s vaccine failure exposed: Binned AstraZeneca and backed German jab that doesn’t work

AstraZeneca: Professor Tom Solomon on becoming CBE

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This is a bit rich

Ben Habib

Mr Habib, a former Brexit Party MEP and a staunch defender of AstraZeneca’s treatment, which was developed in conjunction with Oxford University, was speaking a day after CureVac published initial results suggesting its jab has an efficacy rate of just 47 percent, less than half that offered by two doses of AstraZeneca. He told Express.co.uk: “This is a bit rich. The EU belatedly sought to pre-purchase AstraZeneca’s vaccine.

“Having missed the boat they set out to rubbish it.

“They then rushed make a massive commitment to a German homegrown CureVac vaccine.

“But guess what, it doesn’t work! It is only 47 percent effective.”

Mr Habib added: “Bad luck or ineptitude? Either way, the EU has failed to get Europe efficiently vaccinated. Lives have been lost as a result.

“ Instead of looking across the channel and forever belittling us, they’d be better advised to take lessons.

“The UK’s pharmaceutical industry and research and development facilities are first class.

JUST IN: EU in a nutshell! German vaccine just 47% effective

“So is our ability to manage large scale logistical exercises.”

The study, involving 40,000 people from 10 countries in Europe and Latin America where there are a minimum of 13 coronavirus strains in circulation, warned the jab “did not meet prespecified statistical success criteria” based on a second analysis of a large-scale trial”.

CureVac CEO Franz-Werner Haas was bitterly disappointed by the study’s conclusions.

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In a statement, he said: “While we were hoping for a stronger interim outcome, we recognise that demonstrating high efficacy in this unprecedented broad diversity of variants is challenging.

“In addition, the variant-rich environment underlines the importance of developing next-generation vaccines as new virus variants continue to emerge.

“As we are continuing toward the final analysis with a minimum of 80 additional cases, the overall vaccine efficacy may change.”

Peter Kremsner of the University Hospital in Tuebingen, the scientist leading the CureVac study, said a low dosage was likely the reason behind the disappointing efficacy, but tolerability concerns posed limits to increasing the dose.

After the interim results, the European Commission said it would need to wait for final results and the assessment of the EU drugs regulator before taking any steps, the European Commission’s deputy chief spokeswoman Dana Spinant said yesterday.

She explained: “The information that is about the efficacy rate seems to point to some preliminary, or not complete or final results.

“Of course, it will be important for us to have the final set of complete results regarding efficacy before taking any steps or proceeding in our discussions with the company.”

The results are particularly embarrassing for the bloc, which has faced fierce criticism for its vaccine rollout strategy, because it has invested so heavily in the treatment, buying up most of the initial supply, likely to amount to more than 400 million doses.

The European Medicines Agency’s head of Biological Health Threats and Vaccines Strategy, Marco Cavaleri, said: “We will consider the benefits and the risks demonstrated by the vaccine and come up with a decision on whether the vaccine can be approved or not.

“In other words, we will need to look at the data and only then can we understand that what has been proven in terms of efficacy and safety could be sufficient for a market authorisation.”

Several EU leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron cast doubts about the safety of AstraZeneca’s jab after isolated incidences of blood-clotting earlier this year.

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