Outrage at AstraZeneca boss for staying in Australia and 'failng to defend Covid jab'


Outrage at AstraZeneca boss for staying in Australia and ‘failing to defend Covid jab’ – as critics say he should speak up to ‘give the right message’ about the vaccine

  • Top AstraZeneca investor says boss ‘failed to properly defend the jab in public’
  • Pascal Soriot is currently in Australia but is working EU business hours remotely 
  • Investment firm says that Mr Soriot should be defending the jab more forcefully 

 AstraZeneca’s chief executive has been criticised for failing to defend his company’s vaccine while holed up in Australia.

Frenchman Pascal Soriot, who has been Down Under with his family since Christmas, was accused of not properly explaining the benefits of the jab to the public as it was linked to rare blood clots.

Regulators have stressed that the benefits far outweigh the risks but they have recommended alternatives for people aged under 30. 

On Thursday night the Australian government recommended not administering the AstraZeneca vaccine to people under 50 because of an extremely rare but serious blood clot side effect.

Pascal Soriot, who is currently staying in Australia with his family, was accused of not properly explaining the benefits of the jab to the public as it was linked to rare blood clots

Pascal Soriot, who is currently staying in Australia with his family, was accused of not properly explaining the benefits of the jab to the public as it was linked to rare blood clots

EdenTree Investment Management, a top AstraZeneca investor, said Mr Soriot had failed to properly defend the jab in public and should be doing so more forcefully.

Ketan Patel, a fund manager at the firm, said the chief executive ‘hasn’t been that public and being halfway around the world doesn’t give the right signal or message’.

‘Perhaps it is right to say where is the chief executive in terms of articulating the healthcare benefits? It’s OK to work remotely but if you are the boss of a multi-billion pound healthcare company with a vaccine, I can see why people would be thinking “why isn’t Pascal here”,’ he said.

It comes after another top shareholder, Royal London, rallied to Mr Soriot’s defence saying his efforts during the pandemic have been ‘heroic’.

EdenTree Investment Management, a top AstraZeneca investor, said Mr Soriot had failed to properly defend the jab in public and should be doing so more forcefully

EdenTree Investment Management, a top AstraZeneca investor, said Mr Soriot had failed to properly defend the jab in public and should be doing so more forcefully

Mr Patel told the Daily Telegraph: ‘Pascal has done hugely well, the company is delivering good growth, but that success is being overshadowed by negative sentiment over the vaccine.

‘If we were grading the PR effort, they could do better.

‘If you look at the data, and see that the chances of getting a blood clot with this vaccine is about four in one million, compared to four in 10,000 for the contraceptive pill, that perspective needs to be highlighted.’

It comes after another top shareholder, Royal London, rallied to Mr Soriot’s defence, saying his efforts during the pandemic have been ‘heroic’.

Insiders at Astrazeneca have previously stressed that Mr Soriot is working European business hours and keeps in regular contact with colleagues and clients via videoconferencing.

They said current restrictions mean he would still have to do much of his work remotely even if he was in the UK.

However, the company has said he plans to return as soon as travel restrictions are lifted.

Last night an Astra spokesman said: ‘Travel restrictions and local lockdowns mean it makes little sense to be travelling right now, particularly given that many countries require quarantine.

‘Mr Soriot will continue to empower his team of experts and remain in regular contact with operational leaders in the many sites across the world.’

AUSTRALIA’S NEW ASTRAZENECA RECOMMENDATIONS

* The use of the Pfizer vaccine is preferred over AstraZeneca in Australian adults under 50 who have not already received their first AstraZeneca dose

* Australian immunisation providers should only give a first dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to adults under 50 where the benefit clearly outweighs the risk

* Australians who have had their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine without any serious adverse events can safely be given their second dose, including those under 50

* Australians who have had blood clots associated with low platelet levels after their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine should not be given a second dose

* Australia’s Department of Health further develop and refine resources for informed consent that clearly convey the AstraZeneca vaccine’s benefits and the risks

HOW WILL THIS AFFECT AUSTRALIA’S COVID-19 VACCINATION ROLLOUT?

* Rollout plan will be recalibrated and re-evaluated

* End of October timeline for every Australian to receive first vaccine dose in doubt

* Phase 1b – which includes younger adults with a medical condition or disability and frontline health workers among others – may be delayed

* Pfizer vaccine will be reprioritised for under 50s once phase 1a finishes

* Australia’s vaccine purchases under review

HOW OFTEN DO ASTRAZENECA-LINKED BLOOD CLOTS OCCUR?

* Four to six cases per million AstraZeneca vaccine doses

* One known Australian case found in a 44-year-old man admitted to hospital in Melbourne

* 25 per cent death rate in known cases

* More common among younger people

* Cause unknown

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