Dan Wootton: The greatest gift Britain has given to the world during this pandemic is the low-cost Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine

Dan Wootton gives his take on the day's stories.

Published Last updated


The greatest gift Britain has given to the world over the course of this pandemic is the low-cost Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine. But countries currently ravaged by Covid, including those in Africa, or locked down because of constant outbreaks, like Australia, are inexplicably rejecting the use of the UK jab altogether or limiting it to older age groups. Given the overwhelming desire of politicians the world over to vaccinate their populations en masse, what on earth is going on?

Well, President Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel started the snowball effect of a lack of faith in the Oxford vaccine that seems to have damned it to long-term failure. New research published in the Lancet this week concluded the AstraZeneca jab is pretty much as safe as the Pfizer vaccine, with a study of more than a million concluding that you were more likely to get a blood clot through Covid. So was all of this doing down of the British jab because of Brexit?

The UK government certainly thinks so. An official issued this punchy response to Politico today… “The European leaders who trashed the AstraZeneca vaccine have blood on their hands. We now know what we all suspected is true, that they did it out of spite for Britain because of Brexit. When the history books are written, they’ll say these people were directly responsible for the deaths of thousands in developing countries who won’t take AZ because of their anti-vaxx scare stories.”

I believe being vaccinated is a choice and the current coercion methods do a great disservice to our future civil liberties. But I also believe that millions of vulnerable elderly folk in the developing world and badly hit Covid countries at risk of death from the virus had a right to choose the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine – a choice that has been taken away from them because of pathetic anti-Brexit rhetoric interfering with public health.

Shame on Macron, whose own stunt backfired so badly that he’s now considering the introduction of mandatory vaccines for every citizen. So much for French liberty. The sooner that bloke is booted from office by the furious French people the better.

Work from home

The government has stupidly decided not to run a nationwide campaign to get folk to return to the office. Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak need to man up, banish the doomsday scientists and understand this could be the last chance to avoid a horrific new normal forever.

Working from home is destroying productivity. It’s all well and good for rich civil servants who can work from their plush houses with big gardens, but it’s a disaster for young folk cooped up in flats trying to start their careers or those whose kids are at home. We’re rightly allowed to pack into nightclubs, go to concerts at indoor arenas and celebrate together at festivals. So we damn well can work in an office together too.

As Kevin Ellis, senior partner and chairman of PwC UK, told the Daily Mail today, his generation – he is 58 – has reaped enormous advantages from being in the office. And he firmly believes that staff in their twenties and thirties should have the same chances to get ahead.

He added: “Covid has increased the hierarchy massively. When I am working from home, no junior people ever speak to me but they do at work.”

Rishi Sunak himself said earlier this month: “I think for young people, especially, that ability to be in your office, be in your workplace and learn from others more directly, is something that’s really important.”

So it’s time for the Chancellor to back those words up with action. The first people who should be compelled back are civil servants and BBC workers, who tend to be lazy workshy clock watchers.

The X Factor

Woketopian snowflakes are celebrating the end of The X Factor. According to them, it was too cruel, too confrontational and too competitive.

But that’s why I loved it – and millions of us tuned in every Saturday and Sunday night thanks to the clever producing of that telly genius Simon Cowell. Sure, The X Factor was about winning – and there’s nothing wrong about that. But lots of the so-called losers, from Chico to Rylan to Honey G (who will actually be on the show later), went on to have bigger careers.