Has ‘scaremongering’ about the Oxford jab undermined EU’s vaccination campaign?

People in Germany and France are refusing to be inoculated with the UK-developed vaccine

Emmanuel Macron gestures as he speaks during a video conference meeting.
(Image credit: Gonzalo Fuentes/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Contradictory claims about the effectiveness of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine are hindering the rollout of Covid-19 jabs in Germany and several other European nations, latest uptake figures suggest.

The Times reports that Germans are “failing to keep appointments” to have the Oxford jab, a trend that is “threatening to derail what is already a flagging national inoculation plan”.

The country has so far administered just 150,000 of its total stock of 1.5 million doses of the vaccine, following reports in the German media questioning the efficacy of the UK-developed jab.

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Some European leaders have also made negative comments about the Oxford vaccine, with the German government deciding not to use it to inoculate patients aged over 65 even though the European Medicines Agency has approved the jab to be given to all adults.

French President Emmanuel Macron has cast doubt on the vaccine too, wrongly claiming at the end of January that “everything suggests that it is almost ineffective for those over 65, and some say over 60”.

Amid the widespread “scaremongering”, people in France are joining their German counterparts in “skipping their appointments after finding out they would receive the Oxford vaccine”, says The Sun.

And the scepticism is not contained to these two countries.

Sweden’s public health agency is also recommended against vaccinating people over 65 with the UK-developed jab, while in Poland the vaccine will only be used for people aged 18-60. Italy has proven even more cautious, recommending the use of the vaccine only to people younger than 55.

Meanwhile, the gaps are widening between nations in the global race to vaccinate populations against the coronavirus. Latest tracking from Oxford University shows that while 27.03 Covid vaccine doses had been administered for every 100 people in the UK as of 21 February, an average of just 6.09 doses per 100 had been administered across the EU.

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Chas Newkey-Burden has been part of The Week Digital team for more than a decade and a journalist for 25 years, starting out on the irreverent football weekly 90 Minutes, before moving to lifestyle magazines Loaded and Attitude. He was a columnist for The Big Issue and landed a world exclusive with David Beckham that became the weekly magazine’s bestselling issue. He now writes regularly for The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent, Metro, FourFourTwo and the i new site. He is also the author of a number of non-fiction books.