Novavax deal nears completion / AstraZeneca shows concession / Data for Johnson & Johnson not yet sufficiently clear / AstraZeneca approval leaves decision of Standing Commission on Vaccines open

“As of today, Friday, there is very good news concerning the vaccines and two pieces of news that are challenging, but do not yet give us a cause to cheer. The good news is that the vaccine from the company Novavax is working very well and that the European Commission has been negotiating supplies with this company for months. The contract is about to be signed. So this vaccine could be available, if it is actually approved in a few weeks, also for European citizens. The second piece of good news is that AstraZeneca has now finally signaled movement in the vaccine dispute with the European Union and has announced that it will begin deliveries a week after approval, which is a week from today. They are also continuing to work on getting the figure of 31 million vaccine doses up," said the health spokesperson for the largest political group in the European Parliament, Dr. Peter Liese (EPP, Christian Democrats).

"Not quite as good is the news from the vaccine manufacturer Johnson & Johnson," continues the medical doctor and MEP: "In October, when we had no vaccine at all, an efficacy as described by Johnson & Johnson would have been great news. After all, no one who has been vaccinated, has been hospitalized, but the vaccine doesn't seem to work as well as AstraZeneca's, and certainly not as well as Moderna's and BioNTech's. That's why the company now has to think carefully about how to bring the vaccine to market. I think the vaccine can help, but it may be necessary to analyze the data more carefully to find out under which circumstances it helps and under which it doesn't help so well. Finally, the European Medicines Agency has approved AstraZeneca's vaccine and certified a 60% efficacy. It is important to interpret these 60% correctly. They do not refer to whether one has to go to the hospital or even dies from the substance, but it refers to the complete prevention of infections. That is: those who received a vaccine in the clinical trials were completely protected by 60%, and the other 40% had mild symptoms: no severe course, no hospitalization, no deaths. The European Medicines Agency has also not restricted approval to those under 65 years. It is therefore perfectly possible to administer it to the elderly. The evidence unfortunately is not strong for the elderly.

However, it is a complete fallacy to think that this will turn the entire vaccination strategy on its head. Those who are in the first category in many member states, are also many caregivers and other medical personnel who work with Covid-19 patients. These are urgently waiting for the vaccine and this is where it definitely works. Personally, if it is my turn and I am offered the AstraZeneca vaccine, I won't hesitate for a second to accept it. In addition, AstraZeneca will present further data in the coming weeks and will hopefully be able to better demonstrate safety for people over 65,” Liese concluded.