Vaccine expert slams EU’s ‘hopeless’ tracking of Covid outbreaks
Vaccine expert slams EU’s ‘completely desperate’ tracking of Covid outbreaks as he warns ‘biggest risk’ for UK is importing South African variant from Europe
- Professor Sir John Bell is a key member of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccination team
- He said the ‘biggest risk’ for the UK is importing a South African variant from Europe
- He said Europe was “completely desperate” to keep up with the spread of the Covid variant
A leading vaccine expert has criticized the EU’s “completely desperate” efforts to track outbreaks of coronavirus variants.
Sir John Bell, a senior member of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccination team, said a lack of genome sequencing on the continent means importing the South African variant from Europe is now the “greatest risk” facing the UK.
The Oxford University professor of medicine warned “there are a lot” of cases of the South African variant circulating in EU countries amid a wider spike in infections.
Sir John Bell, a senior member of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines team, said a lack of genome sequencing on the continent meant importing the South African variant from Europe was now the “greatest risk” facing the UK.
Genome sequencing has enabled the UK to track the emergence and spread of disease variants on its own soil.
But Sir John said of the EU’s ability to do the same: ‘They are hopeless. Completely hopeless. Things are really not going well in Europe.
He told the Sunday Telegraph: ‘We believe the AstraZeneca vaccine is quite effective in reducing transmissions, but not with the South African strain.
“And I think it will be the same with Johnson and Pfizer and everyone else.
“I think our biggest risk in the UK will be that South Africa comes to us from the European continent, where there are a lot of them now.”
Experts fear that a failure to control the spread of the coronavirus could lead to the emergence of more dangerous variants of the disease that could evade the current set of vaccines.
Sir John yesterday slammed France for refusing to give the AstraZeneca vaccine to people under 55 after the country previously said the vaccine was unsuitable for older people.
Sir John warned that changing advice was undermining trust in the whole vaccination programme.
He told the BBC: “It makes no sense. The whole thing looks completely like crackers. They change the rules almost every week.
“They’re really damaging people’s faith in vaccines in general – not just the AstraZeneca vaccine.”