Dr Anthony Fauci today claimed the US may never need to use AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine.
America’s top infectious disease expert said his country has already bought enough alternative jabs to inoculate all 330million people in the US.
He said this was not a ‘negative indictment’ of the Oxford University-developed jab, adding that it was ‘really quite good’. But Dr Fauci told BBC Radio 4: ‘It looks right now, at this point in time, that we will not need it.’
Officials across the Atlantic have already given at least one dose of either the Pfizer, Moderna or single-dose Johnson and Johnson jab to 120million people and have fully vaccinated 73million.
The abundance of American vaccines has meant Washington will likely not need to rely on foreign jabs this year, but Dr Fauci has not ruled out turning to AstraZeneca if there are future Covid outbreaks.
Dr Fauci — who has previously been critical of AstraZeneca’s trial data and the British regulator for ‘rushing’ vaccines through approval — tried to quell the growing lack of confidence in the vaccine due to its link to extremely are blood clots.
He said: ‘I think the AstraZeneca vaccine, from a standpoint of efficacy, is a good vaccine.
‘And if the safety issue gets straightened out in the European Union — which I understand is still in a bit of controversy about how to use it and when to use and what age groups to use it — the efficacy of that vaccine is really quite good.
Dr Anthony Fauci has described the AstraZeneca vaccine as a ‘good’ jab but revealed the US might not need to use it because it has so many domestic vaccines already
He said this was not a ‘negative indictment’ of the Oxford University-developed jab (shown), adding that it was ‘really quite good’
How do the Chinese vaccines compare to other approved jabs? CoronaVac, made by Chinese pharma company Sinovac, was found to be just 3 per cent effective at stopping symptomatic illness after the first dose, rising to 56.5 per cent two weeks after the second. Another Chinese-made vaccine made by state-owned pharmaceutical firm Sinopharm appears slightly better than the CoronaVac, 73 per cent efficacy against symptomatic illness
He added: ‘The way the US has made contractual relationships with a number of companies, we clearly have enough vaccine — or will get enough vaccine — that does not include AstraZeneca, which would be enough quantitatively to vaccinate everybody in the United States.
‘Whether or not we ever use AZ is unclear but it looks right now at this point in time that we will not need it.
‘It is not a negative indictment of AZ — it just possible that, given the supply we have from other companies, that we may not need to use an AZ vaccine.’
As US states begin to loosen lockdown restrictions, Dr Fauci also said there was a ‘really risky situation’ when bars and restaurants were reopening in some places where the use of masks was not being enforced.
Dr Fauci, director of the US’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the vaccine rollout would blunt ‘a real explosion of a surge’ but it would not stop a moderate increase in cases.
‘This is not a time to prematurely declare victory because we have such a successful rollout,’ he said.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine is currently being investigated by European and British regulators over concerns about rare cases of blood clots.
It has not yet been approved in the US.
American jab watchdogs accused the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical giant of cherry-picking data to make it seem more effective than it actually was.
The firm hopes it will be given the green light in the coming weeks.
European regulators have found possible links between the shot, which has been given to tens of millions of people, and blood clots but they have reaffirmed the vaccine’s importance in protecting people against Covid.
More than a dozen countries have at one time suspended use of the vaccine, but most have resumed, with some, including France, the Netherlands and Germany, recommending a minimum age.
Officials in Britain, where the vaccine was first approved, have advised that those aged under 30 should be offered an alternative.
Medical watchdogs insist there is still no proof the jab causes the blood conditions and stressed the benefits of vaccination far outweighed the risk.
They only suspended its use in under-30s because the threat of Covid to them is so small.
Young Britons will be offered jabs made by Moderna or Pfizer instead.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine is by far the cheapest and most high-volume shot launched so far, and has none of the extreme refrigeration requirements of some others, making it the planned mainstay of many inoculation programmes.
It comes as England’s Covid vaccination roll-out was expanded to over-45s today.
But the NHS website for booking appointments crashed just moments after the drive was officially opened up to younger adults.
Users trying to get a jab were told: ‘The NHS site is currently experiencing technical difficulties. We are working to resolve these issues. Thank you for your patience.’
Other users reported being placed in a queue with a holding screen which read: ‘You are in a queue. Lots of people [are] trying to book an appointment.’
Health chiefs have moved on to the next stage of the campaign because No10 hit its April 15 goal of offering everyone in the top nine priority groups their first dose three days ahead of schedule.
But shortly after the site crashed, Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi tweeted that the problem had been ‘fixed’.
Moderna’s vaccine is also being dished out in England from today. But only 20 sites will get supplies of the US company’s jab this week, as supply trickles in at around 150,000 a week.
Ministers have bought 17million doses of Moderna’s vaccine, which is the third to be added to the NHS’ ‘armoury’, alongside jabs from Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer.
Moderna’s jab — as well as leftover supplies of AstraZeneca and Pfizer that haven’t been reserved for second doses — will be used to move on to the next phase of the roll-out.
Boris Johnson hailed the ‘hugely significant milestone’ in the race to inoculate the country, as he said the Government would ‘move forward’ on its next goal of inviting every adult for a vaccine by the end of July.