FURIOUS scientists behind the Oxford Covid vaccine have blasted “completely incorrect” claims their jab is only eight per cent effective in the over-65s.
The baffling figure was published in a German newspaper citing it had been “confirmed” by unnamed sources in the country’s Government.
Claims the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid jab are 8% effective in over-65s have been deniedCredit: Getty Images – Getty
But Oxford University and AstraZeneca has vehemently denied the report, saying there is “no basis” for the allegation.
Scientists say they have “no idea” where the figure came from and say it was not backed up by any of the research from the vaccine trials.
A spokesman for AstraZeneca, said: “Reports that the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine efficacy is as low as eight per cent in adults over 65 years are completely incorrect.
“In the UK, the JCVI supported use in this population and MHRA included this group without dose adjustment in the authorisation for emergency supply.
“In November, we published data in The Lancet demonstrating that older adults showed strong immune responses to the vaccine, with 100 per cent of older adults generating spike-specific antibodies after the second dose.”
A University of Oxford spokesperson said: “There is no basis for the claims of very low efficacy of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine which have been circulating in the media.
“The results of the clinical trials have already been published transparently in five peer-reviewed scientific publications showing similar immune responses in younger and older adults and a good safety profile, and high efficacy in younger adults.
“Furthermore, the preliminary efficacy data in older adults supports the importance of this vaccine for use in this population.”
Vaccine minister, Nadhim Zahawi, has also slammed the claim as “complete nonsense”, adding that they have no idea where it came from.
Speaking on Good Morning Britain today, he said: “I can reassure the over 65s that this is not the case.
“The experts have looked at the all the data which AstraZeneca and Oxford have provided.
“We don’t know where this unsubstantiated report came from – it’s not true.
“The eight per cent figure is complete nonsense. I would absolutely rely on the JCVI and the regulator, MHRA, in terms of efficacy.”
We don’t know where this unsubstantiated report came from – it’s not true
Prof Adam Finn, of the University of Bristol, who was not involved in creating the jab, said he had “no idea” where the figure came from.
“Elderly people were recruited to the UK phase 3 relatively late and were relatively well shielded, so there were few cases of Covid that had occurred at the time of submission of data to MHRA for approval,” he said.
“There may have been more by the time of EMA submission. No idea where the eight per cent figure comes from.”
The highly inflammatory claim was published in the Handelsblatt economic daily newspaper on Monday.
It stated that Berlin had estimated the efficacy of the jab among over-65s was just eight per cent and cited anonymous sources.
Bild also said that Berlin did not expect the vaccine – which is set to get the green light from the EU this week – would receive a license for use in the elderly, presenting a significant challenge to roll-out plans in many countries.
It comes after the European Union threatened to block the export of millions of life-saving Covid jabs.
The EU is in a bitter row with AstraZeneca after it cut the number of vaccines it is sending to the bloc, but did not slash British supplies.
The European Union has currently authorised two vaccines for widespread distribution, manufactured by BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna.
It was set to add the AstraZeneca vaccine to that list this week, on the understanding that it would be already on hand and available for immediate roll-out.