Matt Hancock Says France Should 'Listen To The Scientists' After Oxford Vaccine Criticism
Matt Hancock has said the global vaccine effort would be "far better" if leaders "worked together" following criticism of the Oxford jab by French President Emmanuel Macron.
The Health Secretary issued the rebuke to President Macron after the French president claimed earlier this week that the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab was "quasi-ineffective" for those aged over-65.
"I think it would have been far better if we had all worked together all the way through and that is what we are doing now," Mr Hancock told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
"Working closely with partners all across the world really, working with the Americans, working with the South Africans to determine how well the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab is working.
"It is only when we can solve this problem globally that we can truly, truly solve it.
He added: "My view is that we should listen to the scientists, that has always been my view all along."
It comes after a new study conducted by Oxford University found the jab may have a "substantial effect" on reducing transmission of the disease as well as reducing the chances of people getting ill. Europe's medicines regulator has already approved use of the Oxford vaccine for all adults over the age of 18.
Calling the report "superb news", Mr Hancock said it proved the science was "absolutely clear" that the jab was effective.
Speaking after a major row between EU leaders and manufacturers over supplies of vaccines to the bloc, Mr Macron old reporters: "We have to be realistic: the real problem with the AstraZeneca vaccine is that it doesn't work in the way we expected.
"We have very little information... but all the indications today are that it is quasi-ineffective for those over 65 years old, some say those 60 years or older."
Despite German experts also saying that they would not advise giving the AstraZeneca jab to the over-65s due to a lack of trail data, the European Medical Agency gave the vaccine the green light for use in all adults late last month, saying "protection was expected" among older people.
The comments had provoked fury among British officials, with one Downing Street source telling Politico's London Playbook that the comments were "frankly astonishing".
"For all our disagreements over the last few years, it is frankly astonishing that the EU, and teh leader of a supposedly functioning Western democracy, would essentially spread anti-vaxx disinformation," the Downing Street source said.