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Opinion
Therese Raphael

Did AstraZeneca Keep Britain Safer From Covid Than Europe?

CEO Pascal Soriot hinted as much. Unfortunately, the theory doesn’t go very far.

A better jab?

A better jab?

Photographer: Indranil Mukherjee/AFP

Pascal Soriot knows how to make a headline. The AstraZeneca Plc chief executive officer gave a rare interview to the BBC to mark the opening of a billion-pound ($1.3 billion) research facility in Cambridge. But he couldn’t resist a little plug for his vaccine, too.

“If you look at the U.K., there was a big peak of infections but not so many hospitalizations relative to Europe,” he said. His suggestion — made in dulcet tones and bracketed with the caveat that more research needs to be done — is that the AstraZeneca vaccine offers more longer-term effectiveness against serious illness than rival jabs produced by Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. In other words, Britain’s homegrown jab is the reason the country is faring better with the latest Covid wave than Europe.