French President Emmanuel Macron launched an extraordinary attack on one of the vaccines for the novel coronavirus, calling it only "quasi-effective" in public remarks on the drug. The comments come as the world has launched a massive immunization effort in the hope of ending the pandemic that has claimed around 2.2 million lives globally.
Macron took issue with the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, as it appears to be less effective for those over the age of 65, which is one of the major populations the European nation hoped to protect, per France 24.
"Today we think that it is quasi-ineffective for people over 65," he told reporters.
"What I can tell you officially today is that the early results we have are not encouraging for 60 to 65-year-old people concerning AstraZeneca," he continued.
"We have to be realistic: the real problem with the AstraZeneca vaccine is that it doesn't work in the way we expected," he concluded, per Politico.
That said, the French president noted he was not completely briefed on the matter and would be relying on scientists for any official mandates.
"I don't have any data, and I don't have a scientific team of my own to look at the numbers," he acknowledged.
The world leader almost immediately received pushback about his comments, including from the vaccine developers themselves.
Sir John Bell, Regius Chair of Medicine at the University of Oxford who led the vaccine trials and is a member of the U.K. vaccine task force, claimed Macron's statements were "very unfair and also untrue," per iNews UK.
In addition, others argued the French president's words encouraged anti-vaccination conspiracies, which have plagued much of Europe. However, it should be noted that his statement concerned one specific COVID-19 vaccine and not vaccines for the coronavirus as a whole.
Though many medical experts have hit back at the comments, Macron is not the only one to raise concerns about the effectiveness of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. For example, the German vaccine commission, known as STIKO, announced on Friday that it was maintaining its position on encouraging older citizens to avoid getting that shot and should instead wait to receive one of the alternatives.
"The reason is because there is currently insufficient data on the effectiveness of the vaccines on people above 65-years-old," the commission claimed.
Currently, there are three approved vaccines for COVID-19. In addition to the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, there are also options from Pfizer/Biotech as well as Moderna. In addition, a new Johnson & Johnson drug might soon enter the market after showing promising results that avoided fatalities and hospitalization by 100 percent, as reported by The Inquisitr.