Irish Taoiseach defends Macron’s bombshell claims UK vaccine was ‘ineffective’

Micheal Martin defends Macron over ‘quasi-ineffective’ comment

The Taoiseach Micheál Martin stepped in to defend his French counter-part amid a heated row which has seen Emmanuel Macron accused of undermining public confidence in the UK’s vaccine programme. The French President has been criticised for making “untrue” claims about the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus jab after he claimed, without any evidence, that the vaccine “doesn’t work as expected” and appeared to be “quasi-ineffective” in the over-65s.

Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr, Mr Martin was asked if Mr Macron’s comments regarding the vaccine were “dangerous.”

He said: “I don’t think politicians should pronounce on the efficacy or otherwise of vaccines.

“I think we should leave that to the authorisation bodies.

“I think what that comment does reflect though, and I think people need to realise this, there is significant tension across Europe in relation to the sense across Europe that commitments entered into by Astrazenca have not been fulfilled.

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Mr Martin continued: “Now Astrazenca may despite that but that is a very strong sense across Europe.

“That Europe signed up, made financial commitments to Astrazeneca, had an expectation of significantly higher volumes of vaccines to be delivered in a timely manner.

“Which is not now materialising and I think people need to realise if you were in a contract and you had expectations and you had signed up to something and that didn’t materialise

“Then you would be fairly angry too and there would be a lot of tension about the place.”

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“That is what in my view has happened here.

“And that is the broader context that has given rise to all of the issues that we have been discussing from the protocol to the supply of vaccines,” he told Marr.

“This same type of tensions do not appear to have arisen in relation to the other companies.

“I would put it that way too, that is my observation.”


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Speaking in Paris on Friday afternoon, Mr Macron said: “We’re waiting for the EMA results, but today everything points to thinking it is quasi-ineffective on people older than 65, some say those 60 years or older.

“What I can tell you officially today is that the early results we have are not encouraging for 60 to 65-year-old people concerning AstraZeneca.”

When pressed, Mr Macron later acknowledged: “I don’t have any data, and I don’t have a scientific team of my own to look at the numbers.” 

His remarks came just hours before the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved the AstraZeneca vaccine for use, stating that it could be used “in older adults”.

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