A major pitfall for the French vaccine strategy: the delay in delivery announced on January 22 by the British laboratory AstraZeneca will result in a supply reduced by half until spring. He will only deliver 4.6 million doses of his vaccine to France.
Already, AstraZeneca’s “problems in clinical trials” in the fall had led to a sharp drop in forecasts: instead of the 17.5 million doses from December to March provided for in the initial contract, Paris did not expected more than 9 million in February and March.
If the authorization of the European Medicines Agency is still hoped for at the end of January – January 29 except for a new rebound – the “drop in yield” in a factory of the pharmaceutical group will therefore again reduce this figure by half.
Read also: Covid: the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca vaccine called into question
EU asks for explanation
“It’s a big disappointment,” the health ministry told AFP, adding that the government “will deal with the European Union to ask AstraZeneca for an explanation.”
In Brussels, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called on the boss of the British laboratory on January 25 to “honor the contracts and conditions provided for in the pre-order agreement”.
“The whole purpose of (these) contracts was to finance the start of production upstream”, recalls the French ministry, which considers that “the company should have started production as soon as it could” and “put in stock of vaccines to start delivering them to us once (authorization) has been received ”.
The question of efficiency
The daily Bild and the business newspaper Handelsblatt said Monday evening that the German government doubted the effectiveness of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, developed with the University of Oxford, on people over the age of 65 .
But Berlin on January 26 refuted the information from these newspapers, which cited anonymous sources in the government.
According to Handelsblatt, who claimed government sources, Berlin was counting on an efficacy of only 8% for this age group, threatening the approval of the vaccine. “It seems that at first glance, the articles have confused two things,” the health ministry said.
Confusion of data
According to the authorities, the media confused the proportion of people “between 56 and 69 years old”, having participated in the evaluation studies of the vaccine amounting to “8%”, and its rate of effectiveness for those over 65 years old. .
The British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has already defended on January 25 the effectiveness of its vaccine. “The articles according to which the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine is only 8% in adults over 65 are completely false,” said a spokesperson for AstraZeneca in a statement sent to AFP.