London: Doubts cast by several scientists and politicians alike over the efficacy of AstraZeneca Covid vaccine, developed in collaboration with the Oxford University “probably killed hundreds of thousands of people”, according to a scientist.
The vaccine was developed and rolled out in less than 12 months in the UK. It was celebrated as a UK success story and billed as “Britain’s gift to the world”, BBC reported
But a link to very rare blood clots was also found.
As a result, government advisers recommended under-40 should be offered an alternative vaccine.
Fears over the links to blood clots also led other countries, including Germany, France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Bulgaria, Iceland and Thailand, to pause their use of the vaccine, the Guardian reported.
“I think bad behaviour from scientists and from politicians has probably killed hundreds of thousands of people — and they cannot be proud of that,” Prof John Bell, an Oxford scientist who worked on the jab, told a BBC Two documentary.
“They have damaged the reputation of the vaccine in a way that echoes around the rest of the world,” he said.
The AstraZeneca vaccine was designed to be cheap, and developers had the ambition that it should be available at low cost. Unlike the mRNA vaccines, it could be transported at low cost and stored at fridge temperature. Nearly half of the adult population in the UK received two doses of the vaccine
The vaccine’s approval in the UK coincided with Britain’s separation from the EU.
“I don’t think it made relations with Europe any easier that it was promoted as the British vaccine,” Bell told the documentary, to be broadcast on the BBC on Tuesday at 9 p.m.
Before European regulators made their decision, Germany decided it should not be given to those over 65, and France’s President, Emmanuel Macron, called the vaccine “quasi-ineffective” in people over 65, the report said.
The European Medicines Agency approved the jab for all adults of all ages. Both France and Germany later reversed their positions, the documentary says, but the reputation of the vaccine had been damaged.
The overall risk of blood clots is very low — estimated at one in 65,000 overall — but slightly higher in younger adults. When European regulators declared that the vaccine’s benefits outweighed its risks, most lifted their suspension — but put age restrictions on the vaccine, the BBC said.
Further, the clots issue again affected AstraZeneca’s booster doses.
It was coupled with the simplicity of the Pfizer or Moderna mRNA jabs not being age-restricted, the report said.
The BBC reported it accounted for only 48,000 of the more than 37 million booster doses given in the UK.