Although the AstraZeneca vaccine might provide longer-lasting immunity, it has yet to be approved by the United States.

Continental Europe is currently suffering a ferocious fourth wave of Covid hospital admissions that is not being seen across the English Channel, despite Britain having similar case numbers.

Pascal Soriot is chief executive of AstraZeneca. He said that his company was restricted earlier in the year by major EU nations, and delayed rolling out the jab to older persons – which could explain the rise in hospital visits.

Mr Soriot said Wednesday that there was an increase in infections, but not as many hospitalizations in the UK than Europe. “In the UK, this vaccine was used for older adults. In Europe however, people initially thought that the vaccine didn’t work with older persons.

Only 67 million doses of AZ were distributed to the continent, compared with 440m doses for the Pfizer BioNTech jab. However, recent research suggests that the Oxford-made vaccine offers greater protection against serious disease among older adults.

EU scepticism surrounding the jab revolved around two cases of Covid among the 660 individuals in AZ’s global trials. Sevel countries like France, Germany Belgium, Spain and Belgium have restricted vaccine use to those under the age of 65.

Even though the vaccine was ultimately approved by France and Germany for seniors, it caused a lot of controversy and many Europeans urged that Pfizer’s vaccine be administered to them. Some countries, including Norway and Denmark, have stopped using AZ. 

France’s daily infection rate surpassed 30,000 on Tuesday for the first-time since August. This is a 63 percent increase in just one week. Nearby Germany’s seven-day Covid mortality average was twice the UK’s.

Germany’s Wednesday report of 633 Covid-19-related cases per million population was similar to that in the UK, which had 627 such cases per million. France had 98.61 Covid-19 cases per million.

However, the number of ICU patients is a sign of vaccine efficacy. Germany reports 36 ICU patients per million as a result Covid-19. That figure stood at almost 18% in France. In comparison, in the UK, 14.35 Covid-19-infected patients were admitted to the ICU. The trend is downwards.

Covid-19-related cases in Britain are increasing, with 42,484 reported on Tuesday. But, death rates from the virus have fallen by 5.5 % and hospitalisations dropped by 9.5% over the last week.

In the United States, three vaccines have been approved by the FDA: Pfizer-BioNTech, for those over the age of five; Moderna, for over-18s; and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen, also for over-18s. This is the second time that AstraZeneca has been denied approval by the FDA. The release was issued November 2, 2012. 

The USA is seeing an increase in Covid cases as we enter winter, just like Europe. America is seeing a decline in deaths per million, which is nearly half of what we saw in September. There has also been a comparable drop in ICU admissions.

The number of Covid intensive care patients in European countries like Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and France are on the rise and heading into levels not seen since the start of the year. In comparison the UK's number of patients requiring intensive care is levelling off

European countries such as France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands are seeing an increase in the number of Covid intensive-care patients. These numbers have been rising since the beginning of the year. The UK is seeing a steady increase in the number of intensive-care patients.

Just 67million doses of AZ have been distributed across the continent compared to 440m of Pfizer's, even though more recent studies suggest the UK jab provides longer protection against severe disease in older people

Only 67 million doses of AZ were administered to the continent, compared to 440m Pfizer’s. Recent studies have shown that older adults are more likely to be protected by the UK jab than those who received the AZ vaccine.

Britain was seen as the 'sick man of Europe' in the summer after its Covid infection rate outpaced other nations. But as the continent heads into winter many other European nations have seen their case rates storm ahead. The UK is testing up to 10 times more than its EU neighbours, which inflates its infection rate

Britain became the “sickest man in Europe” during the summer, when its Covid rate was higher than other nations. As Europe heads into winter, many European countries have been seeing their cases rise. UK testing is up to 10 times higher than EU neighboring countries, which makes it more infected.

AstraZeneca has shown that older adults respond better to its jab than those who have received modern MRNA vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer. These vaccines have long been popularized in Europe. 

Although T-cells are harder to measure than antibodies, they are believed to offer longer lasting protection. They are more durable than the initial boost provided by antibodies, but see their defense fade quicker over time. MRNA jabs stimulate antibody stimulation better than other methods.  

AstraZeneca is unlikely to play a major role in Europe’s current wave. Even if this were true. In July 2017, the UK released all restrictions, while rest of Europe was still under restrictions. 

According to mobility data, Europeans also have more socialization than Britons. Their behavior has remained calm even during lockdown. And the EU went with a 3-week gap between vaccines, as opposed to the UK’s 12-week space. The UK has been proven stronger and more protective.

And Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, chair of the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) — the independent body advising the British Government on jabbing policy — today said hospitalisations are now ‘largely restricted to unvaccinated people’, suggesting higher levels of admissions on the continent could be simply down to lower uptake of first and second doses. 

Mr Soriot added: ‘T-cells do matter…it matters to the durability of the response especially in older people, and this vaccine has been shown to stimulate T-cells to a higher degree in older people,’ he said. 

‘We haven’t seen many hospitalisations in the UK, a lot of infections for sure…but what matters is are you severely ill or not, are you hospitalised or not?’ He added. “But we’ve not seen as many of these hospitalisations here in the UK.”

‘The antibody response is what drives the immediate reaction or defence of the body when you’re attacked by the virus, and the T-cell response takes a little longer to come in, but it’s actually more durable – it lasts longer and the body remembers that longer.’ 

France, Germany (and the Netherlands), Italy, and the Netherlands were some of the countries that decided to ban the Oxford-made vaccine from older persons. The reason was that there wasn’t enough clinical evidence to support its safety and effectiveness.  After a small number of deaths from blood clots, some European countries decided to forgo the jab altogether.  

French President Emmanuel Macron was accused by the French of politicising January’s roll out of the British vaccine. In his dismissal of it being ‘quasi-effective” for older people, he claimed that the UK had rushed approval. Some described this as bitterness at Britain’s departure from the EU.

Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel (66), also expressed doubts about the vaccine. She stated in February that she wouldn’t get it because her country’s vaccine regulator had infamously advised at the time that people over 65 shouldn’t have the jab. Merkel was eventually granted the AstraZeneca shot in April. 

The scientific community had a mixed reaction to Mr Soriot’s comments today, largely agreeing with his comments on the AstraZeneca jab’s ability to generate a T-cell response but also highlighting that much more research needs to be done what that means in terms of its effectiveness.  

Dr Lance Turtle, an expert in infectious diseases University of Liverpool, said while AstraZeneca provided excellent protection from Covid it was far too early to determine if various vaccines were more or less effective. 

What if Freedom Day saved Britain from Europe? 

Experts claim that the UK’s decision to lift Covid restrictions during the summer could have prevented Europe from experiencing the winter wave.

On ‘Freedom Day’ in July England dumped its remaining measures — including face masks and social distancing.

The virus was able to spread and the cases rose over the summer months, when the NHS wasn’t as busy.

Experts believe that the move was designed to boost immunity in the winter by bringing infections up front. 

Paul Hunter, an expert on infectious diseases at the University of East Anglia said the UK is in a unique position because of its earlier year’s infections.

Sir John Bell (an Oxford University Professor and Government advisor) echoed his remarks, declaring that Freedom Day had “given us longer term protection”.

Sir John stated that he is confident Christmas will go as normal this year and advised Britons to order the turkey because it would be great.

The UK was repeatedly labelled the “sick man” of Europe throughout summer and fall for having the highest level of infected people on the continent.

Many European countries, including Ireland and the Netherlands, are reporting a higher incidence of infections. 

Boris Johnson last week warned that Europe’s waves could still hit Britain.

But he added there was nothing in the data at present to suggest England needed to move to Plan B — which would bring back face masks and work from home guidance.

“At the moment it’s not possible to determine whether AstraZeneca Covid vaccines are better than other vaccines. This is not based on real-world evidence. According to him, if it’s true the difference would likely be negligible. 

Dr Turtle stated that it was difficult to compare international hospitalisations with infection rates of the virus.

He said that the country’s death, infection and hospitalization rates could vary due to many factors.

These include the number of people who have had their vaccines administered and the date they received them. Variants can cause problems, particularly if they are present long after vaccinations have ended. Age and other health factors will also have an impact. 

“Drawing comparisons among countries is difficult and can lead to unreliable conclusions.” 

Professor Matthew Snape, a vaccines expert, who was involved in the COMCOV study which Mr Soriot referenced in his comments today, highlighted how the situation was more complex than simply saying AstraZeneca prompted a greater T-cell response and more research needed to be done. 

Despite the fact that a single dose AZ vaccine can induce a stronger T-cell response to it than the Pfizer MRNA vaccination, the response of T-cells after two doses was almost identical. These studies are being followed up by the researcher to see what responses appear up to six months later after the second dose. 

“Interestingly, best T-cell reactions seem to occur if AstraZeneca and Pfizer are given together. It is important to investigate using different vaccines to maximise T-cell replies to ensure the highest possible vaccine response.

Eleanor Riley is an infectious disease expert. She said that it was difficult to compare vaccines as well as the impact of T-cells or antibodies on Covid infection outcomes. Any differences could be explained by human factors, such distribution, cost and availability. 

Dr Peter English, an expert in disease control, said Mr Soriot’s link between the UK’s relatively low hospitalisation and death rate and the greater use of the AstraZeneca vaccine and its relation to T-cell response was ‘plausible’ but added immunology is very complicated with many factors in play.

Europe’s relationship with the British made AstraZeneca vaccine has been fraught, with accusations of states playing politics with the vaccine. 

Macron’s outlandish comments about AstraZeneca’s effectiveness sparked anger in January. He told a group of journalists: “Today, we believe that it is quasi-ineffective to people over 65.

“What I can say today officially is that our early results regarding AstraZeneca aren’t encouraging for people aged 60-65.

His comments came following a decision by Germany’s vaccine commission to restrict the use of the AstraZeneca jab in older people, stating it was only 6.5 per cent effective for the age group. 

Ursula von der Leyen (president of European Commission) also looked into the topic, suggesting that in February the UK had made such a leap in terms of its vaccination program by cutting corners when it came to safety.

British and European doctors expressed concern that Covid-infected older adults would put off potentially life-saving treatment.  

Pascal Soriot, chief exec at AstraZeneca, suggested the decision by European states to restrict the jab earlier in the year could explain why they are now being hit hard by Covid

Pascal Soriot is chief executive at AstraZeneca. He suggested that European countries’ decision to limit the jab earlier this year may explain why they are being hard hit by Covid

AstraZeneca’s turbulent rollout has taken the EU from the non-profit world Covid jab to its outcast: 

31 December 2020:  The AstraZeneca jab approved for emergency use in the UK

29 January: French President Emmanuel Macron claims the UK-made AstraZeneca vaccine is only ‘quasi-effective’ in the over-65s just hours before the EU medicines regulator approves the jab 

26 February: The 66-year-old German chancellor Angela Merkel comments she will not have the AstraZeneca jab as she is not in the recommended age group of under 65s

1 March: French Government U-turns, approving use of AstraZeneca for the over 65s

11 MarchAstraZeneca is being discontinued in Denmark, Norway, and Iceland due to concerns about blood clots

15 MarchFrance stops using AstraZeneca because of fears about blood clots

19 March: France reapproves AstraZeneca but restricts it to over 55s

7 April: The EU medicines regulator says it has found a rare blood clot side affect of the AstraZeneca jab but added that the overall risk/benefit remains positive in favour of the vaccine 

7 MayThe UK has restricted the AstraZeneca vaccin to those over 40 over the small, but statistically important risk of blood clots among younger adults.

12 MayUK Medicines Regulator says 294 cases have been reported of Britons receiving AstraZeneca in their first treatment. These cases affect approximately one percent of the population.

9 September: AstraZeneca and Pfizer jabs are approved in the UK to be used for third doses as part of a Covid booster programme

4. November:  The EU medicines regulator is reported to be in talks about approving the AstraZeneca vaccine for use as part of a booster programme

Later, it became clear that this was the case. Following Macron’s comments as well panic surrounding the overhyped fear of blood clots due to the vaccine, many people refused to have an AstraZeneca Covid jab in France. 

Further research revealed that clotting issues are more common in younger adults, even though the risk is small at one in three per 100,000 for those under 50 years of age. 

Actual deaths due to the issue are even rarer, one per 500,000 doses and far below the risk of developing blood clots from Covid itself. 

European leaders later were accused of having a lot on their hands for pushing vaccine hesitancy regarding the AstraZeneca virus vaccine abroad. This was in addition to countries without robust health systems.

Famously, the AstraZeneca jab wasn’t for profit with the intention of making vaccines as easily accessible as possible to the entire world. It brought down the world’s population.

Some doses of the vaccine languishing in fridges in Europe were subsequently sent to countries like Namibia after some Europeans declined the jab, preferring vaccines made by the likes of Pfizer and Moderna.

But this led to concerns by some Namibians that sub-par vaccines were being ‘dumped’ on them and may have influenced vaccine uptake in the country.

After reaching their end-of-use date, the 19,000 AstraZeneca dosages in Malawi were incinerated in May.

In the midst of a continuing dispute about vaccine supplies in Europe and some European countries threatening to seize vaccines bound for the UK, the war of words regarding vaccines began in the first months of 2021. 

Originally the EU was eager to get the AstraZeneca jab, but the company struggled to meet the demand for the vaccine meaning shipments were delayed.

Even today some European nations are still refusing to use AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine with both Denmark and Norway suspended the jab over safety concerns in the first half of the year. 

AstraZeneca has not been approved by the US for use in this country.

A rise in the number of Covid patients is being seen in Europe. This refers to people suffering from severe infection who are in need of intensive care.

On November 14th, data was available for Belgium. There were 44 Covid intensive care patients in Belgium, Germany, 22 million in the Netherlands, 18 million in France, and 36 million in Germany. 

Comparatively, the UK’s number of people who require this care has risen in recent months and is now at just 14 per million. 

Many of the UK’s neighbours have recently outperformed it in terms of Covid cases. Britain had 605 Covid cases for every million residents on November 21. This is far less than Belgium or The Netherlands, which have 1,188 and 1,227 Covid cases respectively. 

In Germany, cases have increased dramatically in recent weeks. The country recorded about 586 cases for every million residents on November 21. With no signs of slowing down in the future, the number may outnumber the UK’s. 

There could also be factors other than differences in vaccine policies that could explain the difference in Covid hospitalizations and Covid cases between Europe and the UK. The rate of vaccine uptake in Europe among over-60s has been variable. 

The UK's booster drive has steamed ahead of others on the continent. More than 20 per cent of Brits have now got a booster, which is almost double the level in Austria and three times that in Germany

The UK’s booster drives have surpassed those of other countries on the continent. Over 20% of Brits now have a booster. This is nearly double what was available in Austria, and almost three times as much in Germany.

The average annual full vaccination uptake for older adults across Europe is 86.5 percent, but individual states may have different levels. 

Sir Andrew wrote the Guardian together with Professor Brian Angus from the University of Oxford about an infectious disease professor. He said that the pandemic was and is a silent threat to the health of the population. This can be seen in images of people fighting for their lives and reports at the intensive care unit talking about patients’ fears and how exhausted doctors and nurses are behind foggy visors.

Are there any European countries that are refusing the AstraZeneca vaccine rollout? 


AstraZeneca was withdrawn by the Danish Health Authority in April due to concerns about vanishingly rare blood Clots.

Seven months later, the jab is not yet rolling out.

In June, health authorities stated that this vaccine’s benefits do not outweigh its risks.

They also stated that nearly all of the older population was inoculated against the disease and that it was under control.

Late May, the Danish government asked the health authorities to reconsider suspending the jab.


Norwegian health officials suspended the use of AstraZeneca in March. 

They also dropped the roll-out jab in May due to concerns about blood clots.

Prime Minister Erna solberg announced that at the time the government had decided against using the AstraZeneca virus vaccine in Norway.

The Johnson and Johnson vaccine — which uses similar technology to AstraZeneca’s — has also been suspended in the country.

“This horrific situation, currently taking place in British ICUs, can now be seen only by unvaccinated patients. Covid, although not a common disease, is generally no longer an illness of those who have been vaccinated. Vaccinations tend to reduce this debilitating condition, but there are some exceptions. 

“In the short-term, social and medical restrictions as well as boosters will prevent Covid spreading to people unvaccinated during this winter. These measures won’t solve the problem of Covid in ICUs long-term. In the end, unvaccinated persons will become infected. This vaccine is required to protect against serious illnesses.

While vaccine uptake in Bulgaria and Romania for over 60s is slowing down at 32.9 and 40.7%, respectively, other countries such as Iceland or Ireland reported 100% vaccination uptake.

Compared to this, over 90% of those aged 60+ have received their second Covid vaccination. Many are also receiving their booster jab. 

Others have also suggested Europeans are less cautious than Britons regarding social mixing over the past few months, with many people returning to their pre-pandemic buying levels and commuting routines.

Analysts have also suggested that Britain’s July decision to reopen earlier than expected in Covid cases. However, Britain’s European neighbors, which remained in lockdown longer, now see this increase. 

On ‘Freedom Day’ in July England dumped its remaining measures — including face masks and social distancing.

The virus was able to spread and the cases rose over the summer months, when the NHS wasn’t as busy. 

The UK was repeatedly labelled the “sick man” of Europe throughout summer and fall for having the highest level of infected people on the continent.

Many European countries, including Ireland and the Netherlands, are reporting a higher incidence of infections. 

Boris Johnson warned that Europe’s waves could still hit Britain last week.

However, he said there were no data to suggest that England needs to follow its Plan B. It would involve the reinstatement of pandemic restrictions like the compulsory wearing face masks and guidance from at home.

Yesterday Austria became the first in Western Europe to impose a nationwide lockdown, with the Czech Republic and Slovakia have put the unvaccinated under stay-at-home orders. 

Germany may also make compulsory vaccines. Violence against curbs has erupted over weekend in Belgium and the Netherlands.  

German officials have stated that all citizens of Germany will need to be “vaccinated, treated or killed” by the middle of winter. 

The above graph shows the proportion of people fully vaccinated against Covid, who have received two doses, in western Europe. It reveals that the UK has a similar jab uptake to many European nations

This graph displays the percentage of Covid-vaccinated people in Western Europe who have had two doses. This graph shows that many European countries have a comparable jab-uptake rate to the UK.

The above graph shows Covid hospital admissions per million people in Europe. It reveals that Belgium and the Netherlands are recording a rise, but that they remain flat in the UK. Austria is not included in this graph because no data was available

This graph displays the number of Europeans admitted to Covid hospitals per one million inhabitants. This graph shows that the Netherlands and Belgium are experiencing a rise in hospital admissions, while the UK remains flat. This graph does not include Austria, as no data were available.

The above graph shows Covid deaths per million people from the virus. It reveals Austria and Belgium are starting to record surges. There is a lag between Covid cases and the reporting of any deaths due to the virus

This graph displays the number of Covid-related deaths per million. The graph shows how Austria and Belgium have seen record numbers. The reporting of deaths caused by the virus is delayed due to a delay in cases being reported.

The the difference in fortunes between the UK and the continent could also partly be due to Britain’s booster drive. It has been able to get the booster jabs faster than any European neighbor in reaching the most vulnerable people.

Over-40s can book their next dose of the jab today. They will be able to have it six months later. The over-80s have seen an increase in uptake of 70%.

Mr Soriot was speaking today as AstraZeneca opened a new state-of-the-art research and development facility, called The Discovery Centre, in Cambridge. The new £1billion building will accommodate 2,200 research scientists and focus on the creation of new medicines and therapeutic technologies.