Decision to reject vaccine ‘is between AstraZeneca and Swiss authorities’

·2-min read

Switzerland’s decision not to authorise use of the University of Oxford’s Covid-19 jab is between the country’s medical regulator and AstraZeneca, a leading vaccine expert has said.

Professor Matthew Snape, an associate professor in paediatrics and vaccinology at the University of Oxford, said the vaccine has been licensed in many countries around the world and given to millions of people.

Speaking on Times Radio, he said: “We have published in peer-review manuscripts the effectiveness of this vaccine.

“The actual filing of the licensure is with AstraZeneca, and that is between AstraZeneca and the Swiss authorities, so I can’t really comment on that.

“But the vaccine has been licensed in many countries around the world and is being used as it is.”

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On Wednesday, Switzerland’s medical regulator SwissMedic said it would not approve the jab based on available trial data.

It is already being administered in the UK and was given authorisation for use across the European Union last Friday.

Watch: Could the Oxford Vaccine Change the Course of the Pandemic?

However health officials in Germany, France, Italy, Sweden and Poland have advised against its use for older age groups.

Dr Claus Bolte, head of authorisation at SwissMedic, said it had requested more information from AstraZeneca after deciding not to sign-off the use of the vaccine.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme his team was “not satisfied with the data we have received”.

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Prof Snape said more studies are emerging that are showing the effectiveness of the vaccine.

Research published by the Oxford University on Tuesday suggested it offers protection of 76% up to three months after a single dose and can reduce transmission by 67%.

Asked whether the decision by some European countries to not use the jab for older people is taking the shine off the vaccine, Prof Snape said the decision is up to those countries and AstraZeneca.

He told Times Radio: “We are interested in preventing disease as best we can with the vaccines, and we are thrilled they are being deployed here in the UK and in many other countries.

“The results continue to come out from the studies that have been done here in Oxford, showing the effectiveness of this vaccine – even with a single dose.

“So I don’t think any shine has been taken off really at all.”

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