AstraZeneca vaccine doses for EU under 65 year olds only … if they can get them from UK

Much to my surprise, the appointment for my first covid-19 vaccination arrived today, scheduled for next week in the Newport leisure centre rather than my local GP surgery. Suspect it may be the Astra Zenica rather than Pfizer vaccine, as details of how the new Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine will be rolled out in the Newport area were published locally, but will have to wait and see.

my vaccine appointment letter

However, the AstraZeneca vaccine may only be authorised for younger people in Europe because there is insufficient data on how well it works in the over-65s, the head of the EU regulatory body has suggested. In a recent interview, AstraZeneca’s CEOPascal Soriot, acknowledged there was “a limited amount of data” on the effects of the vaccine in older people, but insisted the information they had showed “very strong antibody production against the virus in the elderly, similar to what we see in younger people”. click full article

As I reported the other day, the EU has demanded that AstraZeneca supply the bloc with more doses of its Covid-19 vaccine from UK plants, amid a row over shortages. The company has infuriated the bloc by saying it can deliver only a fraction of the doses it promised for the first quarter of the year. THe EU blames production issues at European plants in Belgium and the Netherlands, but the EU say doses made in the UK should make up the shortfall.

Health worker prepares to administer Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in Widnes, UK - 14 January
The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has not yet been approved by the EU

In the same interview on Tuesday with Italian newspaper La Repubblica, AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said the contract compelled it to make its “best effort” rather than obliging it to meet a set deadline for delivery of the vaccine supply. The EU’s Health Commissioner said this characterisation of the deal was “not correct or acceptable”, and called on the company to be “open and transparent” about its production of vaccines. She added that the EU rejected “the logic of first-come first-serve”. “That may work at the neighbourhood butcher’s but not in contracts, and not in our advanced purchase agreements.”

Vial of vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech

EU and vaccines

  • 448m EU population
  • 8.4m People received vaccine so far (1.9%)
  • 2.3bn Doses ordered overall
  • 400m Doses ordered from AstraZeneca (Not yet EMA approved) – 17% of total

In summary, here is why EU officials are furious with AstraZeneca. They say the contract between them and the pharmaceutical giant clearly stipulates that the two main vaccine production factories in the UK are to be classed as primary manufacturing sites, and the production sites in Belgium and the Netherlands are secondary priorities. The vaccine production issues are in Belgium and the Netherlands (they have been producing lower yields). So, this is a no-brainer to EU officials – the UK sites should be used to transport the vaccines across the continent. click full article.

Interestingly, there was a piece on the late ITV News interviewing couples attending National vaccine centres, where the younger partner (70-74) had an appointment, and the older partner (75+/80+) did not. The explanation from an NHS spokesman I think was that older people with more complex needs would vaccinated at their local GP surgery rather than a National vaccination centre. This makes me think that the UK may be following the EU policy of no Astra Zenica jabs for the more elderly (75+) Pfizer jabs for the 70 – 74 year olds ie me next week. Time will tell. I will let you know.

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