Revealed: Millions of Oxford vaccine doses sitting unused across the EU

James Morris
·Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
·3-min read
File photo dated 04/02/21 of a vial of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine. UK leaders and medical experts have defended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine despite multiple European countries pausing its use due to concerns over possible adverse side effects. Issue date: Tuesday March 16, 2021.
Nearly half (45%) of Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine doses have gone unused across the EU. (PA)

More than seven million Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine doses delivered to EU countries have not been used.

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) figures show 7,187,963 doses have not been administered out of a total 15,853,227 delivered.

That means 45% have gone unused across the EU.

The number of unused doses in EU countries is demonstrated on this interactive map...

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...and the number of unused doses compared to doses deployed is demonstrated on this map.

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Of the 27 EU countries, Germany and France alone have 2,728,138 unused doses of the jab.

They are among 13 EU countries which have paused the rollout of the jab in recent days due to reports of some people suffering blood clots following vaccination.

While an investigation has been launched, the EU’s own regulator, the European Medicines Agency, has insisted the jab is safe.

Prof Jeremy Brown, from the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said on Wednesday that the move to suspend the vaccine “will cause more illness and more deaths” from COVID-19 than they would ever prevent in the “unlikely” situation that there is an increased risk of blood clots from a vaccine.

Boris Johnson once again led the UK’s defence of the jab on Wednesday, telling MPs at Prime Minister’s Questions: “I think perhaps the best thing I can say about the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine programme is that I finally got news that I’m going to have my own jab very shortly.

Watch: Boris Johnson to receive AstraZeneca COVID vaccine

“It will certainly be Oxford/AstraZeneca that I will be having.”

It is understood the NHS told the PM he would receive the AstraZeneca jab because of the public interest surrounding the vaccine, though it is unclear whether Downing Street specifically requested it.

Prof Jonathan Van-Tam, England's deputy chief medical officer, also pointed out the potential side effects of paracetamol to demonstrate why people shouldn't worry about the jab.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is one of two approved jabs currently being deployed in the UK, and its use has been a major factor behind the UK’s hugely successful rollout.

Even before the 13 countries paused the AstraZeneca vaccine, EU member states have been well behind the UK amid wider supply problems and hesitancy, in some quarters, about its effectiveness.

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Meanwhile, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen suggested exports of vaccines could be halted to countries with higher vaccination rates.

In what appeared to be a veiled threat to the UK, she told reporters in Brussels: “We are exporting a lot to countries that are themselves producing vaccines and we think this is an invitation to be open, so that we also see exports from those countries coming back to the European Union.

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“The second point that is of importance to us: we will reflect on whether exports to countries who have higher vaccination rates than us are still proportionate.”

Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine doses for Europe, including the UK, are being produced in BioNTech’s German manufacturing sites, as well as in Pfizer’s manufacturing site in Belgium.

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab accused the EU of “brinkmanship” and warned it not to block exports.

Watch: Do coronavirus vaccines affect fertility?