Oxford vaccine

We could all pay the price for the EU’s foolish vaccine nationalism

I’m a card carrying, Europe-loving, wishy-washy centre-left liberal. It therefore pains me to point this out: the EU in general, Ursula von der Leyen specifically, and some of the prominent European leaders such as Emmanuel Macron are getting policy and messaging on vaccines badly wrong. They need to urgently ditch the peacock displays of tribal politics. The French president, in particular, who leads one of the most vaccine sceptical western nations, should not have so publicly questioned the efficacy of what has clearly turned out to be a vaccine that is working in the fight against Covid-19. The consequences of their words could well be long-lasting. ‘The early results we

New Oxford data supports UK vaccine strategy

Ever since the Oxford-AstraZeneca team announced the results of its Phase 3 trials last November, there has been a suspicion among some that their vaccine is the poor relation of the messenger RNA vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna. It might be cheap compared with the others, it might be easy to store and transport, but the results published last November indicated that it had an efficacy of 70 per cent compared with over 90 per cent for Pfizer and Moderna. Even that was questioned when it was pointed out that the 70 per cent figure was arrived at by mixing different trials, involving different quantities of vaccine. When a

Germany has just undermined the EU’s vaccine argument

Germany’s vaccine committee has advised the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine only be given to under-65s. The announcement marks a major twist in a week of muddled vaccine reports. On Tuesday, the German newspaper Handelsblatt suggested that German officials believed the Oxford vaccine was only 8 per cent effective for the over-65 groups (no evidence has been produced to support the 8 per cent claim). It has been heavily and extensively rebuffed by both AstraZeneca and the German government. Yet the German reporter who broke the story doubled down on the claims, raising the stakes as to whether he was making precarious reporting worse, or whether the European Medicines Agency may indeed conclude that the vaccine’s efficacy is too low. As

German paper doubles down on Oxford vaccine claims

Yesterday’s extraordinary row over the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has just become even stranger. The German government spent much of Tuesday rubbishing reports they had found the jab to be only 8 per cent effective among the over 65s. A claim that was published by the Düsseldorf-based financial paper Handelsblatt following a tip-off from anonymous sources within the German government. Instead, according to the country’s health ministry, there had been a very embarrassing misunderstanding:  At first glance it seems that the reports have mixed up two things: about 8 per cent of those tested in the AstraZeneca efficacy study were between 56 and 69… But one cannot deduce an efficacy of only 8 per cent with older

Britain is leading the world in the fight against Covid. Seriously

How is Britain doing in the battle against coronavirus? Many have repeatedly declared we have the worst track record of any country, with both the highest death rate in Europe and suffering the highest economic hit. Newspaper headlines have constantly loud-hailed our alleged failings, from the shortage of ventilators to putting ourselves at the back of the vaccine queue by not joining the EU’s programme. The only trouble is that this is just not true. In many ways, the UK’s response to coronavirus is quite literally, dare I say it, world-beating. Clearly there have been many setbacks and hiccups. Clearly there are many lessons to be learned. But just as

What we don’t yet know about the Oxford vaccine

We have become used to Mondays bringing good news on the vaccine front. But the publication of interim results from the Astra Zeneca/Oxford University vaccine – AZD1222 – will certainly please the UK government. Not merely because this is the home-grown option and we have already ordered 100m shots, but because, shot for shot, it is considerably cheaper to buy and administer than the other vaccine candidates. The vaccine itself is less than a fifth of the price of the Pfizer vaccine. Moreover, it does not need storing and transporting at minus 70 Celsius – it can be kept at ordinary fridge temperatures (2 to 8 Celsius), greatly facilitating any

James Forsyth

Oxford’s vaccine success could mean a return to normal by April

One consequence of the positive Oxford vaccine news this morning is that the UK will shift to a strategy of attempting to vaccinate as much of the adult population as possible. We know from NHS documents obtained by the Health Service Journal that the aim is to have 75 per cent of the population vaccinated by April. If this was the case, all social distancing measures could be ended that month, with even nightclubs open as before. The Oxford vaccine is particularly well suited to a mass vaccination programme. Unlike the Pfizer one, it can be stored at fridge temperature making distribution of it far easier. Rolling this vaccine out

What we don’t (yet) know about the Oxford vaccine

How excited should we be about the latest news of the Oxford vaccine? At least this time – in contrast to previous updates, which have tended to come via Downing Street briefings – we have a paper in a scientific journal, the Lancet, to go by. The paper reports that 1,077 people took part in the trial and that 90 per cent developed antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 virus after a single dose of the vaccine. All developed antibodies after a second dose. The trial also tested for adverse side-effects – which were widespread, but all of which were described as ‘mild’ or ‘moderate’. Some patients were given paracetamol along with