Most of Holland's 11m doses of Astrazeneca Covid vaccine to go unused

Most of Holland’s 11million doses of AstraZeneca Covid vaccine will go UNUSED after government restricted its use on under-60s despite soaring cases

  • The head of the Netherland’s public health institute’s vaccination department admitted that millions of AstraZeneca doses will not be needed
  • Jaap van Deldon has been criticised by doctors after saying jabs will go unused 
  • Doctors accused him of confusing matters and leading to a poor vaccine turnout

Most of the 11 million AstraZeneca vaccines due to reach the Netherlands in the coming weeks will go unused, the head of the country’s public health institute’s vaccination department has said. 

Jaap van Deldon admitted that millions of the ordered Covid-19 doses will not be needed after the government restricted its use on under-60s due to concerns about incredibly rare blood clots.

Mr Van Deldon has been criticised by doctors after telling the AD newspaper that the doses, due to be delivered next month, will go unused in favour of other vaccines. 

In the Netherlands, 8,013 Covid-19 cases were reported on Sunday while 11 people died

He told the newspaper: ‘But at some point it is of course true that we are done with AstraZeneca. 

‘That moment will come a bit faster than expected, because Pfizer has started to deliver more. 

‘We estimate that we will largely no longer need the AstraZeneca deliveries that we will receive from the second half of May.’

When asked what will happen to the millions of wasted doses of the vaccine, Mr Van Deldon said: ‘The idea has always been: we buy more vaccines than we need, because vaccines could fail. 

‘If Europe is left with vaccines, they could be distributed to less wealthy countries. And maybe you could save some for later.’

The Netherlands, alongside a number of EU countries, has crippled its own vaccine roll-out by suggesting the AstraZeneca vaccines were ineffective. 

The country introduced age restrictions on the vaccine limiting its use to those older than 60 amid a ‘possible link’ between AstraZeneca and very rare blood clots. 

There was also a number of stop and starts in the jab’s rollout – first it was halted, then permitted, and then banned for those under the age of 60 due to the blood clot fears.

It has resulted in people having little confidence in the jab, which has affected how many people are getting the vaccine in some doctors’ practices. 

The National General Practitioners Association LHV in the Netherlands accused Mr Van Deldon of confusing the vaccine issue further and said it is important for people to take the AstraZeneca vaccine.

‘The policy changes surrounding this vaccine are making it more difficult for doctors to ensure high turnout [for the vaccination],’ the organisation told the Dutch News. ‘This is absolutely not helping.

Jaap van Deldon admitted that millions of the ordered Covid-19 doses will not be needed after the government restricted its use on under-60s due to concerns about incredibly rare blood clots

A healthcare worker is vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in Amsterdam on April 24

‘As far as we are concerned it is clear: if the choice is AstraZeneca now or possibly another vaccine later, then the choice should absolutely be for AstraZeneca now.’

While the Netherlands has ordered 11 million doses of the jab, which is only being given to people between the ages of 60 and 64, only 1.5 million doses have been handed out so far to the population of around 17 million.

The European Medicines Agency on Friday said again that the use of the Oxford jab ‘outweighs its risks in adults of all age groups’. 

In the Netherlands, 8,013 Covid-19 cases were reported while 11 deaths were reported. 

The development comes as the EU is suing AstraZeneca over its ‘complete failure’ to meet delivery deadlines and contractual agreements for its vaccine. 

Ursula von der Leyen’s Commission is now mounting plans to sue AstraZeneca after not receiving doses outlined in its contracts. It comes after European leaders rashly claimed that the vaccine wasn’t safe, which has crippled the woeful pace of their programmes to immunise 

Brussels also bitterly decided not to take up the option to buy 100 million more of the Anglo-Swedish firm’s vaccine. 

The EU is seeking to save face in the courts after crippling its own vaccine roll-out by launching a war against Britain – and the rest of the world – first, by suggesting that the vaccines were ineffective, and then embargoing exports.

Only a third of Germans now consider the AstraZeneca vaccine to be safe, while just 23 per cent of the French would take it. 

In Italy and Spain, most people had previously believed the jab was safe, with 54 per cent and 59 per cent backing it respectively.

But since the row over safety, those figures have fallen to 36 per cent of Italians and 38 per cent of Spaniards, YouGov figures show.

As a result, just 19 per cent of EU citizens have received their first dose of a jab, while 49 per cent of the British population has had a vaccine. 

The EU launched a vaccine war in January when it was notified by AstraZeneca to expect a shortfall in doses as Britain raced ahead with inoculations.  

Leaders like Emmanuel Macron lashed out at the UK, saying that the jab developed by Oxford University was only ‘quasi-effective’ – a claim later shown to be baseless scaremongering by the EU’s own medicines regulator.

The bloc meanwhile lurched to a policy of embargoing exports, condemned as ‘stupid’ even by Jean Claude Juncker, to force AstraZeneca into delivering supplies. 

A woman receives a shot of the Janssen vaccine, during a COVID-19 vaccination campaign in Pamplona, northern Spain, Thursday

By the end of the first quarter, AstraZeneca had supplied 30 million doses to the Bloc, instead of the 100 million it had pledged to deliver in its contract.

The EU blamed the manufacturer, but the reason why Britain and the United States have had such successful vaccine roll-outs compared to the EU is because they were able to actually secure the doses by cutting red tape.

Brussels, on the other hand, signed contracts with AstraZeneca much later due to its vast bureaucratic red tape.

They were also more reliant on receiving doses from Pfizer and Moderna, which were hit with early production woes.

The Commission has ordered 300 million doses from AstraZeneca as part of a contract that included 400 million doses, of which 100 million was optional.  

However, in recent weeks the EU has stepped up the pace of its roll-out. 

It has fully vaccinated 7 per cent of the population, compared with 15 per cent of the UK.

Last week, the Netherlands averaged 0.77 vaccines per 100 people per day, the highest of any country in Europe.

France, Germany and Hungary are also picking up the pace.

Whether they will be able to fully repair the damage done by raising fears over blood clots remains to be seen. Countries like Italy and France have very high levels of anti-vax sentiment compared to in the UK.

Before the vaccine safety row, 43 per cent of French people considered the vaccine to be unsafe, now that proportion has risen to 61 per cent. 

In January, the European Medicines Regulator (EMA) approved the AstraZeneca jab for all age groups, but a number of EU countries, including France and Germany, refused to recommend it to people over 65. 

At the beginning of March, France and Germany were forced into humiliating U-turns and approved jab for 65 to 74-year-olds.

Then just weeks later, they were among 13 countries which suspended use of the vaccine after sporadic reports of blood clots.

Most countries then restarted use of the vaccines after the EMA came out and said that the incidence of blood clots was actually lower among those who had received a jab than it was in the general population. 

On April 7, the regulator conceded there was a ‘possible link’ between AstraZeneca and blood clots, but said neither age group nor gender were a defining risk factor.

But the damage was done. Countries including the Netherlands, France and Germany have limited use of the jab to those older than 55 or 60, while Denmark has entirely suspended its use.

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