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Macron says he would take AstraZeneca vaccine if it was offered

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PARIS (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday he would gladly accept being inoculated with the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine if it were offered when his turn comes.

“In view of the latest scientific studies, the efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine has been proven,” Macron told reporters after a virtual European Union summit. “My turn will come, but I’ve got time. If that’s the vaccine that’s offered to me, I will take it, of course.”

Macron had caused dismay in Britain after being quoted earlier this year as saying the shot appeared “quasi-ineffective” among those aged over 65.

The French leader, who is under pressure to accelerate a vaccine rollout in France that is badly lagging Britain’s, also said AstraZeneca had failed to meet its delivery targets and that EU leaders were putting pressure on the Anglo-Swedish company.

“We told them, you’re not being serious about the commitments you made, because you haven’t met them,” he said. “We’re putting pressure on them so they make up the ground lost and so that a precise timetable is met.”

Reuters reported on Tuesday that AstraZeneca expects to deliver less than half the COVID-19 vaccines it was contracted to supply to the European Union in the second quarter.

Macron said the EU’s export control mechanism for vaccines was satisfactory and helped transparency but should not be used to ban exports, which would be counterproductive.

Macron also said vaccine passports, as suggested by countries like Greece, would be unfair for young people, who are at the back of the queue for vaccination and could de facto be banned from travelling during the summer holidays.

Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Leslie Adler and Catherine Evans