Professor Thomas Mertens, who chairs Germany’s Standing Commission on Vaccination which advises the government, admitted there was a “problem” persuading people to have the Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs due to flawed perceptions about its efficacy.
“We have about 1.4 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine in store and only about 240,000 have been given to the people,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“We are working quite hard on this point and try to convince the people to accept the vaccine and really to gain the trust in the vaccine in the population.
“But as you may know this is some kind of psychological problem too and it will unfortunately take a little bit of time to reach this goal.”
He added that he would tell his relatives to have the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab if offered it and stressed that experts had found it to be “equally good for individual protection and also for fighting the pandemic” as other vaccines such as the BioNTech/Pfizer one.
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He admitted the problem in Germany may have been partly caused by his committee advising previously that there was not enough data available then on giving the jabs to the over 65s, though he emphasised that this view was not related to the safety of the vaccine.
But he stressed that the “major problem” was incorrect claims spread about the AstraZeneca vaccine, including by French president Emmanuel Macron.
Rasmus Bech Hansen, chief executive of science data platform Airfinity said the EU had got off to a “very slow start” in its vaccine roll-out, with only around six per cent of the population given a first dose, compared to 27 per cent in the UK.
He added: “The EU countries have agreed that everyone gets the same number of doses at the same time.
“So the difference we are seeing between the various EU countries has to do with roll-out speed.
“We are seeing countries like Greece and Spain actually rolling out fairly fast, around seven per cent of their population, Germany a bit slower, Italy a bit slower, and then a country like France is around five per cent only, and Bulgaria is down to two per cent...so we are seeing quite a wide discrepancy within the EU.”
Delays in purchasing vaccine doses and investing less than other countries were to blame for the overall slow roll-out, together with production problems and vaccine-hesitancy, he added.
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