SIR John Bell, a professor who is part of the Oxford University vaccine team, accused the French President of “demand management” over his claims the AstraZeneca vaccine is “quasi-ineffective” for the over-65s.

Emmanuel Macron claimed that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was "quasi-ineffective" for over-65s, just hours before it was approved for use on all adults in the EU.

In a press briefing in Paris on Friday afternoon, the French leader said the jab, “doesn't work the way we were expecting to."

He also appeared to criticise the UK’s vaccine rollout strategy, which has so far resulted in more people being given a first dose than any other European country.

Mr Macron said: “The goal is not to have the biggest number of first injections.

“When you have all the medical agencies and the industrialists who say you need two injections for it to work, a maximum of 28 days apart, which is the case with Pfizer/BioNTech and you have countries whose vaccine strategy is to only administer one jab, I’m not sure that it’s very serious.”

But, in response, the Oxford medicines professor told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Saturday: “I’m not sure where he got that from.”

Sir John acknowledged its original study only had small numbers of elderly people, with many shielding themselves from the pandemic, but added: “The numbers still pointed toward a very highly effective vaccine but the numbers were small, in fairness, we always accepted that.”

But he said other studies proved, “elderly people responded just as well in other age groups”, and that, “there’s really persuasive evidence that this is a protective vaccine in those populations”.

He added: “I suspect this is a bit of demand management from Mr Macron.”

Pressed if he thinks he is trying to reduce demand, Sir John said: “Well, if he didn’t have any vaccine the best thing you could do is reduce demand.”