The use of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine in vulnerable people may be resulting in a lower death toll in the UK compared to Europe, according to the former chief of the country’s vaccine taskforce.
Clive Dix said the durable cellular immunity response produced by the AZ jab can potentially “last for life”.
This comes as he attacked Boris Johnson last month by claiming that the Government ignored his plan to prepare for the vaccine-resistant Covid strains.
The AstraZeneca jab was approved last December, and vaccines were initially rolled out among the older and the most vulnerable in society.
Mr Dix said: “If you look across Europe, with the rise in cases, there’s also a corresponding lagged rise in deaths, but not in the UK, and we have to understand that.”
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He added to The Daily Telegraph : “I personally believe that’s because most of our vulnerable people were given the AstraZeneca vaccine.”
Mr Dix told the newspaper: “We’ve seen early data that the Oxford jab produces a very durable cellular response and if you’ve got a durable cellular immunity response then they can last for a long time. It can last for life in some cases.”
AstraZeneca has faced both praise and criticism during the pandemic, with its Covid jab hailed as being one of the first on the market and for its low cost in comparison to other jabs.
The rollout of the AstraZeneca jab in the UK saw Government advisers recommending under-40s should be offered alternatives due to evidence it may be linked to very rare blood clots.
Fears over links to blood clots also saw some European countries pause their use of the jab.
This comes as Boris Johnson is expected to avoid introducing new Covid restrictions as he makes a decision on whether to bring in fresh lockdown measures today, it has been reported.
The Prime Minister is due to be presented with the latest Covid data on Monday as he weighs up whether to impose fresh restrictions on England to stem the spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus.
Mr Johnson is expected to be briefed by Chief Medical Officer for England Professor Chris Whitty – who is reportedly likely to receive a knighthood for his pandemic efforts – and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.
If the figures are positive, he could be persuaded to stick to lighter touch measures introduced under Plan B, potentially with some extra words of guidance, the Mail reported.
And The Daily Telegraph reported schools were drawing up plans to send whole year groups home for remote learning if staff shortages due to Omicron hit after the Christmas holidays.