The EU’s vaccine war entered a dangerous new phase today as the bloc put in place rules allowing it to block life-saving shocks to the UK and European politicians accused the UK of “kidnapping” cans.
The new controls, which will go into effect on Saturday and go into effect by March, allow the EU to keep an eye on all vaccines made on the continent and block exports to certain countries – including the UK, which is expected to be another 3.5 Pfizer BioNTech will deliver millions in the coming weeks from Belgium.
The rules are also dated three months ago and allow Brussels to track previous vaccine deliveries after Brussels accused AstraZeneca of sending doses to the UK intended for Europe.
Health Minister Stella Kyriakides today insisted that the “transparency mechanism” should not target any country, even if the Croatian Prime Minister branded the British “kidnappers” while the EU Justice Commissioner said Britain had started a “war”.
While European ministers have publicly insisted that they are entitled to shove under the terms of the AstraZeneca contract, Steven Barrett – a respected business lawyer with the Radcliffe Chambers – told MailOnline that it actually shows the opposite.
“The EU’s public position is legally unsustainable and they have made public comments that are proven to be false,” he said.
When pulling the EU treaty apart, Barrett pointed to Section 5.1 as the worst, saying that it “clearly shows” that the company is only under a “Best Reasonable Effort” clause to supply the EU – like Chef Pascal Soriot explained.
Section 5.4, although it states that factories in the UK are considered part of the EU under the terms of the contract, he called this a “distraction” that “is not relevant to the point of the EU”.
‘This is actually a slightly embarrassing rise of the EU, which has the rule that all vaccines used in the EU must be made in the EU.
“This clause states that the UK will be considered the EU for the purposes of this treaty.” However, this does not add that they are entitled to cans made in British factories.
In addition, Clause 6.2 of the contract states that “competing agreements” signed by AstraZeneca could affect the supply of vaccines to the EU.
“They knew there would be competing agreements,” Barrett said. “Everyone in the world knew that there would be competing agreements. They knew this could mean the doses were being delayed.
“I think the EU is publicly claiming that it now has the right to queue and take cans that belong to other people. That is explicitly wrong, ”he added.
“This is just evidence that the abuse of vaccine procurement and introduction by the EU has become a major political problem for them,” said Tory MP Andrew Bridgen.
‘Your knee jerk reaction [is] Become protectionists. They are rightly being hammered so try to distract them. It’s a veiled threat. ‘
Tory David Jones added, “It is a form of blackmail that they are dealing with. You have a dispute with AstraZeneca over vaccine delivery.
“How can this be remedied in any way by banning Pfizer products from being exported to the UK? They are acting like playground bullies trying to stop the UK from benefiting from the Pfizer vaccine. That’s crazy.’
Meanwhile, the EU finally approved the UK-designed AstraZeneca sting a month after the UK, dismissing Germans’ concerns that there wasn’t enough data to show it is effective in those 65 and over.
The European Union is currently in a very public war of words with AstraZeneca after the company announced that initial shipments to the block would be cut by at least 60 percent, while shipments to the UK would not be affected.
EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides (left) said today that vaccine export controls are not targeting a specific country, while Ursula von der Leyen (right), German President of the European Commission, said the EU’s deal with the pharmaceutical giant was “crystal clear”
The UK has beaten Europe in terms of the number of vaccines given, now bumping over 7 million people compared to 2 million in Germany
To force the problem, the EU today released a version of the contract it signed with AstraZeneca – although a lawyer who spoke with MailOnline said this actually shows its position as “legally unsustainable”.
This is the main paragraph that the EU hopes will bolster its claim on the UK vaccines – although AstraZeneca insists that UK and European supply chains are separate and that delays in one do not affect the other
Commercial lawyer pulls apart EU contract dispute with AstraZeneca
A respected commercial lawyer has torn apart the EU’s argument that it is entitled to UK-developed AstraZeneca vaccines.
Steven Barrett – a respected corporate lawyer with the Radcliffe Chambers – points to a clause in the contract, Section 5.1, which clearly states that the vaccine developer must only use his “best reasonable efforts to produce the first European doses”.
Section 5.4 of the EU contract with AstraZeneca, which the bloc published today, states: “AstraZeenca will do its best to manufacture the vaccine at production sites in the EU (of which only the UK for the purposes of this Section 5.4).”
Mr Barrett claims this is a “distraction” that is “not relevant to the EU point”.
“This clause states that the UK will be considered the EU for the purposes of this treaty.” However, he added that this does not mean they are entitled to cans made in UK factories.
In addition, Clause 6.2 of the contract states that “competing agreements” signed by AstraZeneca could affect the supply of vaccines to the EU.
It continues: “AstraZeneca will not be considered a breach of this agreement due to such delay due to the above competing agreements.”
Mr Barrett argues, “They knew there would be competing agreements.
“Everyone in the world knew that there would be competing agreements. They knew this could mean the doses were being delayed.
“I think the EU is publicly claiming that it now has the right to queue and take cans that belong to other people. That is explicitly wrong, ”he added.
In an extraordinary move, the EU is trying to force the drug maker to ship UK-made batches to the continent to make up for the deficit, despite the company insisting the two supply chains are separated.
Earlier in the day, Brusselsreleased a version of the deal it signed with AstraZeneca to force the vaccine maker to ship UK-made cans to Europe – but appeared to have been shot in the foot.
And in another embarrassing stumbling block for the EU, it emerged that they didn’t buy any new Novavax shots – which passed Phase III trials yesterday – while the UK bought 60 million cans five months ago.
In yet another blow to the launch of Shambolic vaccines in the EU, it emerged today that the block has not yet purchased Novavax vaccines – the latest move to pass phase III trials with 90% effectiveness as of Thursday .
The UK, where the vaccines are made, had a contract for 60 million doses on paper back in August last year, while the EU only concluded “exploratory talks” in December and has not yet signed up for the bumps.
UK medical regulators have yet to give final approval for the vaccine to be used, but it is expected to be launched in late summer. The EU will likely have to catch up with the UK again.
Separately, EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders has intensified the war of words by accusing the UK of starting a “vaccination war” and saying the UK has shown “a lack of solidarity”.
‘The EU Commission has been pushing for vaccine contracts to be coordinated on behalf of the 27 to avoid a vaccine war between EU countries, but maybe Britain wants to start a vaccine war?
“Solidarity is an important principle of the EU. With Brexit it is clear that the UK does not want to show solidarity with anyone, ”he told the BBC.
In Europe, Covid vaccines are desperately running out, which means the introduction is now lagging far behind the UK – a mess that a German newspaper this week called “the perfect advertisement for Brexit” – and deep among EU ministers Causes embarrassment.
The vaccination program encountered another stumbling block on Friday when it was revealed that the EU has not yet signed a contract for Novavax vaccines made in the UK.who passed Phase III studies yesterday with a success rate of 90%.
Ministers only finalized exploratory talks on the purchase of Novavax last December, while the UK put on paper a contract to buy 60 million cans in August more than five months ago.
This means the EU will once again catch up with the UK, which has so far hit more than 7 million people compared to 2 million in Germany.
In retaliation, the EU sent inspectors to the Belgian plant at the heart of the supply problem, while demanding that millions of UK-made AstraZeneca lugs be shipped to make up for the shortfalls.
The EU vaccine export ban could reduce shipments to the UK
The EU’s decision to ban vaccines from exports could affect UK orders for millions of overseas-made batches.
Brussels is currently trying to save face after its desire to introduce shocks in the 27 member states at the same time has lagged far behind the UK and other nations like Israel.
Today’s decision to require companies to authorize exports to certain countries before shipping includes exemptions for many nations, but the UK is not on the list.
The UK expects to receive an additional nine million shocks over the next three weeks from the Oxford / AstraZeneca factories in Wrexham and Oxford, and from the Pfizer / BioNTech manufacturing center in Puurs, Belgium.
If European leaders decide to block vaccine exports across the English Channel, American pharmaceutical company Pfizer may not be able to ship supplies to the UK.
That would mean some of the 3.5 million doses reportedly expected to arrive by mid-February could get stuck within the EU.
The head of AstraZeneca promised earlier this year that the company would deliver two million cans a week to the UK from the third week of January.
Those two companies’ deliveries alone would be just enough to cover all of the 8.6 million outstanding people in the top vaccine priority groups. However, if deliveries stop or fall short, the destination could be at risk.
Boris Johnson has repeatedly downplayed any threat to vaccine supplies in the UK this week. And his spokesman, asked today about the EU threat, said: “AstraZeneca has made it clear that it will be able to deliver two million doses a week and we have stated that we will get them as soon as possible will bring to the people. “
He added, “The agreements we have made with the seven vaccine developers will ensure that our offering continues to grow.”
It is not clear how many cans are already in UK warehouses and ministers are refusing to divulge numbers for security reasons.
But No. 10 has confirmed that they are distributing vaccines as soon as possible after they are supplied by the manufacturers.
Additionally, the Pfizer vaccine must be kept at -70 ° C for it to work.
This means UK warehouses are unlikely to have large stocks of vaccines in reserve ready to fill the void if supplies are cut.
It was revealed last night that the Novavax puff, made in Stockton-on-Tees, appears to be effective against both the original coronavirus strain and a mutant strain first identified in Kent.
The UK has secured access to 60 million doses of the new vaccine but has yet to be approved by the regulator. This means that it won’t be available until the second half of this year at the earliest.
Ministers have refused to accept statements from AstraZeneca boss Pascal Soriot that the EU and UK supply chains are separate, that national preference has nothing to do with the delays and that the real reason is that European Ministers have placed their order three months behind Britain.
Ursula von der Leyen, the German President of the European Commission, said the EU’s deal with the pharmaceutical giant was “crystal clear” that the supplies would come from four factories, including two in the UK.
The UK signed a contract with AstraZeneca in May for 100 million cans, all made in laboratories in Oxford and Staffordshire and filled into vials at a facility in Wrexham. The EU signed 100 million cans of the UK-designed engraving three months later in August.
Ms von der Leyen said today that AstraZeneca, which warned Brussels this week that its first shipment will decrease by 60 percent in late March, has given “no plausible reasons” for production problems.
She told Radio Germany: “There are binding orders and the contract is crystal clear.” She said the contract included delivery quantities for December and the first three quarters of 2021 and also mentioned four manufacturing facilities, two of which are in the UK.
Your extraordinary testimony this morning came as the bloc prepares to reveal new forces today that could block the delivery of millions of doses of vaccine to the UK in a matter of days.
With the growing debate surrounding the EU’s lack of bumps, the European Commission will establish a mechanism to allow member states to refuse to export vaccines.
The move will heighten fears that the UK’s expected supply of the Belgian-made Pfizer BioNtech vaccine could be disrupted. Britain has ordered 40 million cans.
It came when Belgian health officials announced they were being sent to an AstraZeneca factory in the town of Seneffe, where doses of their vaccine are being made. The commission requested the inspection because of doubts about the statement by the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company for the lack of supplies to the block.
To add to the complications, Germany’s top vaccine panel recommends recommending the AstraZeneca bump not just for those over 65 as there isn’t enough evidence to show whether it works in the elderly.
Clwyd West Tory MP David Jones said, “Germany’s efforts to question the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca vaccine make the EU’s extreme willingness to get its hands on it all the more confusing.”
The European Medicines Agency will today approve the AstraZeneca bump for block use, but Germany expects the regulator to place restrictions on who it can be given.
Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn said at a press conference: “We do not expect unlimited approval.”
Europe is facing increasing pressure to withdraw from the vaccine line and warns that the continent’s rhetoric “sounds like Donald Trump”.
An EU diplomatic source told The Times: “When some Germans sound like Donald Trump, it’s time for everyone to take a deep breath and count to ten. A vaccine war between the EU and the UK is one of the worst things that can happen right now. ‘
But an EU official defended the bloc’s tough stance, telling The Guardian: “In an ideal world, we wouldn’t be here, the whole story of vaccination would go smoothly without any problems.
“But unfortunately we are not in an ideal world and we have seen in the last few weeks that not everything works well.”
In other coronavirus developments today:
- It emerged that after the lockdown, the Covid-Tiers system could be abolished as part of plans to ease restrictions on a national basis.
- Boris Johnson and the UK health chiefs insisted the AstraZeneca vaccine is suitable for all ages after German scientists said they would not recommend it for those over 65 as they believe there is not enough evidence gives.
- The UK is well on its way to receiving an additional 60 million covid shocks after a UK-backed vaccine from US biotech company Novavax successfully completes its Phase 3 trials, paving the way for regulators for final approval in paving the coming weeks.
- Mark Drakeford announced that lockdown restrictions in Wales will remain in place for at least three weeks as he also said elementary school students may return to classrooms after the February semester.
- Data collected in Israel showed that almost all cases of Covid can be prevented with two doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
- Thousands of British travelers face a race against time to get home from Dubai and Abu Dhabi after ministers announced that the UAE will be placed on the banned “red list” from 1pm today.
The EU was furious at AstraZeneca’s announcement that it would have to reduce shipments of its Covid-19 vaccine to the block by 60 percent due to production issues. Brussels has raised questions about whether cans from the factory were secretly shipped to the UK.
This has led the EU to consider whether shocks made on the continent may leave during a supply crisis.
As a result, according to the proposals to be finalized today, customs authorities in EU countries will have to notify the Commission every time bumps are dispatched outside the block.
An EU official said: “There is a possibility in certain circumstances not to promote export. We want to make sure we have a say in where those vaccines end up. ‘
This means the EU will once again catch up with the UK when it comes to getting its hands on the new shocks (pictured) after previously postponing a contract for AstraZeneca vaccines for three months
The official insisted that a refusal would only take place “in rare cases” when companies fail to meet their contractual obligations to the EU.
The export freeze criteria will be released today, with the mechanism expected to go into effect within a few days.
The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, chairman of the EU leaders’ meetings, supported the application of legal measures to protect the bloc’s vaccine supply.
In a letter to the heads of state and government of four member states, he wrote: “The EU must take decisive action to ensure the supply of vaccines and to demonstrate concretely that protecting its citizens remains our top priority.”
The EU faces a shortage of vaccines after AstraZeneca warned Brussels last week that production problems in Belgium would result in the block receiving only a quarter of the 100 million doses it received in the first three months of this one Year expected.
How did the UK come to be among the world leaders in introducing the vaccine?
The UK is one of the world leaders when it comes to the speed with which its coronavirus vaccination program is rolled out – a fact made even more impressive when the nation started the pandemic early last year.
At the time, the country had only one vaccine manufacturing facility – a facility in Liverpool that ran flu vaccinations.
However, the government quickly set up a vaccines task force in April to ensure the UK is well positioned to benefit from medical breakthroughs.
According to The Times, the experts appointed to the task force recommended seven projects for investment in the first two weeks.
Pre-orders were worked out by the task force with suppliers, although there was no guarantee that the vaccines would work or be approved by regulatory agencies.
This early work meant Britain was in pole position to receive the shocks if they were found to be effective and safe.
As a result of the Task Force’s strategy, two companies have relied on doing much of the heavy lifting during the UK’s vaccine rollout: Pfizer and AstraZeneca.
The UK ordered 40 million cans for the former and 100 million cans for the latter.
There are also agreements with a handful of other potential suppliers if their products are given the green light.
The speed with which the UK is adopting vaccines was perhaps best illustrated this week when Pascal Soriot, CEO of AstraZeneca, announced that the deal with the UK was made three months before the EU treaty.
The UK supplies the AstraZeneca vaccine to sites in Oxford and Staffordshire before being filled into vials at a facility in Wrexham while the Pfizer stitch is made in Belgium.
Every new batch of vaccine in the UK must undergo a safety review by the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control in Hertfordshire before it can be sent for delivery.
This process takes about four days. Once each batch is stamped, the state warehouses are secured, where the NHS takes over the process and decides where the cans will be sent.
The physical launch of the vaccine is headquartered in an NHS office in London. The doses will be sent to more than 1,400 vaccination centers across the country.
It is easily the largest vaccination campaign in health care history and many believe it will be an annual program.
The French health authorities are already struggling with bottlenecks. A number of regions across the country have canceled the first dates, which were supposed to be in early February, and postponed them for at least a month.
Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn said the country is expected to face a vaccine shortage until at least April.
The Spanish regions of Madrid and Cantabria have also canceled the first vaccinations and are using the remaining doses to give second vaccinations to those who had the first.
Portugal, where infections and deaths rose to record levels after Christmas, said delivery delays resulted in top priority people – including health professionals – being fully vaccinated by April, about two months later than originally planned. The Netherlands will also have difficulty implementing its vaccination program.
News of restrictions in Europe comes after Nicola Sturgeon was accused of being the EU’s side on the bitter vaccine line when she promised to release details of UK shipments despite Boris Johnson’s orders to keep them secret .
Despite the Prime Minister’s warning that the information must be confidential to protect the rollout, Ms. Sturgeon told Holyrood that she would release it “regardless of what they say” starting next week.
The timing of Mrs Sturgeon’s intervention yesterday was particularly provocative as Mr Johnson was on an official visit to Scotland to stand up for the Union.
Tory MPs have expressed anger at Mrs Sturgeon who wants Scotland to be independent and rejoin the bloc. She said she was “obviously more inclined to help the EU than the UK”.
Tory MP Peter Bone told MailOnline: “The simple truth is that they are more supportive of the EU than the UK.
‘It’s wrong their behavior. I would have thought she would praise Britain’s success because Scotland is participating. If she were in the EU and not the UK, she would still be waiting for her vaccines. Stand behind the UK government and stop petty politics. ‘
Douglas Ross, the Scottish Tory leader, said it was “deeply irresponsible” for Ms. Sturgeon to make the data public.
Former Tory chairman Sir Iain Duncan Smith accused Ms. Sturgeon of “show boating to try to gain EU favor”.
Sir Iain told The Telegraph the SNP leader should “thank the UK government for once in her life for having vaccines so people in Scotland have a better chance of surviving the coronavirus than if it were in the EU would what her dream is “.
Tory MP Jones accused Ms. Sturgeon of “trying to ingratiate herself with the EU in the hope that if Scotland wins a referendum it would be allowed to join”.
MEPs had previously threatened a “trade war” with Britain over the supply problem when the bloc increased pressure on AstraZeneca to bail out the shambolic vaccine.
Europäische Politiker warnten davor, dass die „Konsequenzen“ der Weigerung, Bestände der in Großbritannien hergestellten Stöße in die EU umzuleiten, ein Exportverbot für die Pfizer-Version aus Belgien darstellen würden – was darauf hindeutet, dass 3,5 Millionen Dosen, die bald eintreffen werden, gefährdet sein könnten.
Bisher scheinen sich sowohl AstraZeneca als auch Pfizer gegen das Säbelrasseln aus Brüssel zu behaupten.
Es kommt, nachdem die Abgeordneten gewarnt hatten, dass Großbritannien “leiden” würde, weil es die EU verweigert, und der Gesundheitskommissar des Blocks darauf bestand, dass Großbritannien keine Priorität erhalten sollte – obwohl es drei Monate vor Brüssel einen Vertrag mit AstraZeneca unterzeichnet hatte.
Stella Kyriakides sagte: „Wir lehnen die Logik ab, wer zuerst kommt, mahlt zuerst. Das funktioniert vielleicht in einer Metzgerei, aber nicht in Verträgen und nicht in unseren Vorauskaufverträgen. ‘
Kabinettsminister Michael Gove sagte, Großbritannien werde darüber diskutieren, wie wir den Impfbemühungen der EU helfen können. Auf die Frage, ob Großbritannien verlieren könnte, weil die EU nicht genügend Dosen hat, sagte Herr Gove: „Nein. Das Impfprogramm wurde vereinbart und zugesichert, und die Lieferungen wurden vor einiger Zeit festgelegt. Wir werden sicherstellen, dass das Impfprogramm genau wie geplant verläuft. ‘
Während sich AstraZeneca zu einer “noch engeren” Koordinierung mit EU-Beamten verpflichtet hat, hielt das Unternehmen fest an seinen Waffen fest und sagte, es sei “offen” gegenüber dem Block über die “Komplexität” der Steigerung seiner Impfstoffproduktion.
Das Unternehmen hinterließ auch einen kleinen, aber ergreifenden Stich im Schwanz, der die europäischen Staats- und Regierungschefs daran erinnerte, dass sie sich verpflichtet hatten, Menschen auf dem gesamten Kontinent während der Pandemie „ohne Gewinn“ Millionen von Impfstoffen zur Verfügung zu stellen.
In einem außergewöhnlichen Schritt riskierte Nicola Sturgeon heute Nachmittag, die Position Großbritanniens zu untergraben, indem sie bekannt gab, dass sie ab nächster Woche Einzelheiten über die Impfstoffversorgung des Landes veröffentlichen wird
Es kommt, als die deutsche Presse (Bild: Ein Artikel in Die Zeit) Brüssel anmachte, als sie die Einführung des shambolischen Impfstoffs in der EU als “beste Werbung für den Brexit” anprangerte.
Kabinettsminister Michael Gove sagte, Großbritannien werde darüber diskutieren, wie wir den Impfbemühungen der EU helfen können. Auf die Frage, ob Großbritannien verlieren könnte, weil die EU nicht genügend Dosen hat, sagte Herr Gove: “Nein.”
Premierminister und britische Gesundheitschefs bestehen darauf, dass der AstraZeneca-Impfstoff für ALLE Altersgruppen wirksam ist, nachdem Deutschland behauptet, dass Jab noch nicht bei über 65-Jährigen angewendet werden sollte
Boris Johnson und die britischen Gesundheitschefs bestanden darauf, dass der AstraZeneca-Impfstoff für alle Altersgruppen geeignet ist, nachdem deutsche Wissenschaftler erklärt hatten, dass sie ihn nicht für über 65-Jährige empfehlen werden, da sie der Ansicht sind, dass es noch nicht genügend Beweise gibt.
Der Premierminister und Public Health England zeigten sich optimistisch, nachdem eine Berliner Kommission erklärte, es gebe “nicht genügend Daten, um die Wirksamkeit des Impfstoffs für Personen ab 65 Jahren zu beurteilen”.
Im Gegensatz dazu haben die britischen Aufsichtsbehörden den Stich für alle Altersgruppen genehmigt. AstraZeneca verweist auf Daten, die in einem medizinischen Journal veröffentlicht wurden und zeigen, dass 100 Prozent der älteren Erwachsenen in Studien Antikörper erzeugt haben.
Die Haltung Deutschlands befindet sich in einem wütenden Streit zwischen der EU und AstraZeneca über die Impfstoffversorgung, wobei der Block bei der Immunisierung seiner Bevölkerung gegen Covid-19 weit hinter Großbritannien zurückbleibt.
Obwohl es möglich ist, dass sich die Position mit mehr Beweisen ändert, erhöht sich die Aussicht auf Spaltungen zwischen Großbritannien und der EU darüber, welche Impfstoffe als wirksam angesehen werden – mit Spekulationen, dass Reisen zu bestimmten Zielen in Zukunft von einer Impfung abhängig gemacht werden könnten.
Bei einem Besuch in Schottland heute Nachmittag sagte Herr Johnson, er sei nicht besorgt über die Nachrichten aus Deutschland. ‘Nein, denn die MHRA (Regulierungsbehörde für Arzneimittel und Gesundheitsprodukte) unserer eigenen Behörden hat sehr deutlich gemacht, dass sie der Meinung sind, dass die Oxford-AstraZeneca sehr gut und wirksam ist und nach nur einer und nach zwei ein hohes Maß an Schutz bietet Dosen «, sagte er.
Der Premierminister sagte, die MHRA sei zu dem Schluss gekommen, dass der Impfstoff “in allen Altersgruppen wirksam” ist und “eine gute Immunantwort in allen Altersgruppen bietet”. Er fügte zu den deutschen Schlussfolgerungen hinzu: “Dem stimme ich also nicht zu.”
Dr. Mary Ramsay, Leiterin der Impfungen bei PHE, sagte, es habe in der klinischen Phase-3-Studie bei älteren Menschen “zu wenige Fälle” von Coronavirus gegeben, um die Wirksamkeit in dieser Altersgruppe zu bestimmen, aber andere Daten zur Immunantwort seien “beruhigend” gewesen.
AstraZeneca sagte: “Die neuesten Analysen der Daten klinischer Studien für den Impfstoff AstraZeneca / Oxford Covid-19 unterstützen die Wirksamkeit in der Altersgruppe der über 65-Jährigen.”
Großbritannien ist auf dem besten Weg, weitere 60 Millionen Covid-Impfstoffe herzustellen, da der in Großbritannien ansässige Novavax Jab die Phase-3-Studie besteht
Britain was on course to secure another 60million Covid jabs last night after the latest UK-backed vaccine cleared a crucial hurdle.
US biotech firm Novavax announced its vaccine had successfully completed its phase three clinical trials in the UK, paving the way for regulators to give final approval in the coming weeks.
Under a deal with the Government, 60million doses of the vaccine will be produced on Teesside for use in this country, in what could prove to be another triumph for Britain’s world-leading vaccine programme.
Novavax, which will be made at the Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies factory in Stockton-on-Tees according to local reports, last night said the trials had shown its vaccine was 89.3 per cent effective
The trial is the first to be completed since the emergence of the new variant of the disease in Kent. Preliminary analysis suggests the vaccine was 85.6 per cent effective against this mutation.
The two-shot vaccine still requires final approval from the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.
But Whitehall sources said that, if the regulatory process goes smoothly, the jabs could start coming on stream this summer, allowing a huge acceleration in the drive to inoculate all adults by the end of September.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed the ‘spectacular’ results, adding in a tweet: ‘Good news that the Novavax vaccine has proved effective in UK trials.
‘Thank you to all the volunteers who made these results possible. Our medicines regulator will now assess the vaccine, which will be made in Teesside.’
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said: ‘Having taken part in Novavax’s vaccine trial myself, I am particularly thrilled to see such positive results.’
Two Pfizer doses ‘are 99.96 per cent effective’: Double jab weeks apart prevents almost ALL cases of Covid-19, research in Israel suggests
Almost all cases of Covid are prevented with two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, research suggests.
Data gathered in Israel – which is leading the world in the vaccine rollout – found that just 0.04 per cent of those vaccinated with both doses went on to develop coronavirus.
Of 700,000 people who were vaccinated, just 300 later contracted the virus, with only 16 requiring hospital treatment, according to preliminary data released by Israeli health officials.
The vaccine also protects against the more infectious UK variant of Covid-19, the research suggests.
Professor Eyal Leshem, an Israeli infectious diseases specialist, said the reports were ‘very good news’.
He added: ‘The initial findings are quite incredible.
‘After one dose, the cases fell substantially and after two, there were just 0.4 per cent.
‘Time will tell, we still need to accumulate data but these are very encouraging preliminary reports.’
More than 30 per cent of Israel’s population has received a vaccine, with several studies into its effectiveness under way.
Professor Leshem added: ‘On one hand, we’re seeing very high community transmission rates with 1,000s of cases every day – the highest rates we’ve experienced since the beginning of the outbreak.
‘But when we look specifically at these hundreds of thousands of Israelis that are vaccinated, they don’t get infected.
‘And even in those few cases that get infected, they experience a mild disease – only a handful need to go to the hospital, only a handful experienced severe disease and needed to be admitted to the hospital.
‘It’s what we call real life, ecologic evidence of vaccine efficacy – the high efficacy of the vaccine.’
Ms Sturgeon’s comments came as she was grilled by Tory Ruth Davidson at First Minister’s Questions yesterday afternoon.
Pushed on why Scotland’s vaccinations were happening more slowly than England’s, Ms Sturgeon dismissed claims that the authorities north of the border were sitting on supplies.
And she referenced a previous row with Westminster when the Scottish government published information about supplies, only to be told to withdraw the material.
Ms Sturgeon complained that despite the orders the UK government has been ‘briefing’ the details out, adding: ‘I’ve said to my officials actually, regardless of what they say, I think we will just go back to publishing the actual supply figures from next week so we all have transparency around that.’
According to reports, the Belgian federal medicines agency completed an inspection at the AstraZeneca production site in Seneffe, Hainaut.
Samples and records are said to have been taken and another visit is due in the coming days.
The firm has blamed a production problem at the site, owned by a French life-sciences company, for the reduction in how much supply the EU can expect.
However, there is scepticism in Brussels over the explanation, with un-evidenced claims the UK is being given stocks.
A prominent German MEP warned the UK would ‘suffer’ unless it agreed to the EU’s demands to share more vaccine.
Peter Liese, who is in Angela Merkel’s CDU party, suggested Brussels could block shipments of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab, which is made in Belgium.
He said: ‘The BioNTech vaccine, which is only produced in Europe and has been produced with the aid of the German state and European Union money, has been shipped to the United Kingdom.
‘If there is anyone thinking that European citizens would accept that we give this high quality vaccine to the UK and would accept to be treated as second class by a UK-based company, I think that the only consequence can be immediately stopping the export of the BioNtech (vaccine) and then we are in the middle of a trade war.
‘So the company and the UK better think twice. When we see Europe is not treated well, not by the United States and not by the UK, then we have to show our weapons.
‘We need to tell the other companies in the world if we treat the Europeans as second class, you will suffer for this.’
To add to the complications, Germany’s top vaccine panel said it is not recommending the AstraZeneca jab only for over-65s because there is not enough evidence on whether it works for the elderly.
The panel of scientists said the Oxford/AstraZeneca product was ‘considered appropriate’ for 18-65 year-olds but should not be used for older people ‘based on available data’.
‘There is currently insufficient data to assess the efficacy of the vaccine for persons aged 65 years and older,’ it said.
The commission did not lend any credence to the sensational claim published by German media on Monday that the jab was only eight per cent effective among over-65s, a theory debunked by the manufacturers and German health ministry.
Instead, it said there was not enough data to make a decision either way – after AstraZeneca’s boss said the ‘very ethical’ Oxford scientists had slowed down trials on older people until the vaccine was proved to be safe.
Downing Street has refused to rule out giving UK vaccines to the EU once the most vulnerable in the country have been inoculated.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman was repeatedly asked by reporters whether Number 10 was considering the idea.
The spokesman said it ‘remains our priority to vaccinate the most vulnerable people across the UK to ensure we can give those who are at clinical risk protection against the virus’.
Pushed on whether that left the door open to sending vaccines to Europe once the most vulnerable had been jabbed, he added: ‘Phase one includes those who are most vulnerable to the virus – that remains our priority to make sure we get vaccines to all those as quickly as possible.
‘Phase one is groups one to nine (on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation suggested priority list). The mid-February target is the first four groups within that.’
Put to him that after the first nine cohorts had been vaccinated, vaccines could then be shared, the spokesman added: ‘I didn’t say that.’
AstraZeneca warned Brussels last week the problems in Belgium meant the bloc would receive only a quarter of the 100million doses it had expected by April.
A spokesman told MailOnline: ‘Our CEO Pascal Soriot was pleased to participate in a meeting this evening with the EU’s Vaccine Steering Board.
‘We had a constructive and open conversation about the complexities of scaling up production of our vaccine, and the challenges we have encountered.
‘We have committed to even closer co-ordination, to jointly chart a path for the delivery of our vaccine over the coming months as we continue our efforts to bring our vaccine to millions of Europeans at no profit during the pandemic.’
Government sources insisted only once the AZ factories in Oxford and Newcastle-under-Lyme had fulfilled their commitment to the UK will they be free to supply other countries.
The UK signed a deal with AstraZeneca last May to supply 100million doses of the vaccine it developed with Oxford University.
EU nations placed a joint order for 400million doses from AstraZeneca three months later, in August, to be made at two sites on the continent, as well as the two UK sites.
The resultant 75million shortfall in the first three months of this year has caused a major row between the two sides.
Tory MP Andrew Bridgen told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: ‘The fact is that we ordered the vaccine three months before the EU.
‘The EU are coming out with a very strange excuse for botching their procurement of vaccine at the moment.
‘They’re saying that the reason it took them three months longer than the UK to order the vaccine is because they were negotiating for better prices for and better value for money, which is ludicrous when the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, our own UK vaccine, is being produced at cost at £3 a dose subsidised by the UK taxpayer.
‘I don’t know how you get better value for that.
‘The EU then insisted on the contract that they did sign with AstraZeneca that they get delivery at the same time as the UK, which had ordered it three months before.
‘Obviously that’s going to be produced in Belgium at a new facility they’re setting up.
‘AstraZeneca made the EU aware that was going to be very difficult but they promised to make best efforts, that was in the contract.’
Aaron Bell, a Tory member of the Commons science committee, said: ‘I understand and sympathise with the EU’s disappointment that AstraZeneca is having yield issues at its Belgian plant, but the suggestion that the UK’s supply should be diverted to the continent is clearly inappropriate.’
Tensions rose when Mr Soriot told European newspapers in an interview on Tuesday that the supply schedule for the EU was not a ‘commitment’ but agreed as a ‘best effort’.
He said that as Brussels had signed its supply contract three months later than the UK it had left less time to sort out production ‘glitches’ at sites on the continent.
‘The contract with the UK was signed first and the UK, of course, said ‘you supply us first’, and this is fair enough,’ he added.
But Miss Kyriakides flatly rejected the argument and demanded the vaccines being made in the UK for domestic use be exported to the EU.
At a briefing in Brussels, she said: ‘There is no hierarchy of the factories.
The EU’s health commissioner last night insisted that Britain should not receive priority – even though the UK signed a contract with Astra-Zeneca three months before the bloc did. Pictured: AstraZeneca office building in Brussels