Tony Blair slaps down Emmanuel Macron’s comments on Pfizer vaccine as ‘incorrect’

Tony Blair labels Macron’s vaccine comment as ‘incorrect’

Tony Blair was called upon to condemn the intervention of President Emmanuel Macron which sparked accusation that the French leader was lying about the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca coronavirus jab to “reduce demand” amid a supply shortage crisis. Sky’s Sophy Ridge told Mr Blair on Sunday that there had never been a more important time for people to be confident to take the vaccine, but the former Prime Minister refused to be drawn into whether Mr Macron had been engaging in “conspiracy theories.”

The French President has sparked a furious backlash after he claimed, without any evidence, that the Oxford vaccine “doesn’t work as expected” and appeared to be “quasi-ineffective” in the over-65s. 

“I don’t want to get into a big row about it but it is obviously incorrect,” Mr Blair said of the claims when asked by Ms Ridge. 

“There is no doubt that the Astrzeneca vaccine is a good vaccine and its a good vaccine for people over the age of 60, over the age of 65.

“I have got a vested interest in that nowadays,”

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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.” 

Speaking to the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Sir John Bell, who helped develop the vaccine, accused Mr Macron of “managing demand” to compensate for not having adequate supplies of the drug.

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“If he didn’t have any vaccine the best thing you could do is reduce demand.”

Sir John also hit back at President Macron’s description of the drug as “quasi-ineffective”, telling the BBC: “I’m not sure where he got that from.

“The numbers point toward a very highly effective vaccine but the numbers were small, in fairness, we always accepted that.” 

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen is expected to meet chief executives of vaccine producers later today.

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Mr Blair also said there is a “very strong case” for teachers to be vaccinated before schools are reopened to all students in England, which the Government has earmarked for March 8.

But the 67-year-old was unwilling to confirm if he would be willing to give up his own jab to a teacher, arguing: “Well, I am suggesting I would push back.

“If it’s 500,000 people it is two days of vaccination.

“I think that is a reasonable thing to do in these circumstances if it helps allow you to get the schools back sooner.”

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