1 min read.Updated: 10 Feb 2021, 10:25 PM ISTAgencies
In interim recommendations on the shot, the expert panel said the Oxford vaccine should be given in two doses, with an interval of around 8 to 12 weeks between the first and second doses
A World Health Organization panel has recommended COVID-19 shots for all, including in people aged 65 and older. The benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University outweigh any risks, the panel said on Wednesday.
In interim recommendations on the shot, the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation (SAGE) panel said the vaccine should be given in two doses, with an interval of around 8 to 12 weeks between the first and second doses.
SAGE also said that even where questions have been raised about the vaccine's efficacy against a South African variant of the coronavirus, "there is no reason not to recommend its use".
South Africa this week paused its rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine after data from a small trial showed it did not protect against mild to moderate illness from the 501Y.V2 variant of the coronavirus now dominant in the country.
Dr Soumya Swaminathan, the WHO’s chief scientist, called the findings from the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts an “important milestone."
She noted that the vaccine requires storage at refrigerator temperatures — not the far colder temperatures required of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that the group has already recommended for use. So far, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only one to receive a WHO emergency use listing.
The expert group noted that “preliminary analyses" showed the AstraZeneca vaccine had reduced effectiveness against coronavirus variants that have emerged in Britain and South Africa.
SAGE also said international travelers shouldn't get preference for vaccine doses, saying that would “counter the principle of equity" as well as a lack of evidence about whether vaccinations reduces the risk of transmission.
The AstraZeneca vaccine is important because the U.N.-backed COVAX Facility, which aims to deploy coronavirus vaccines to people in need around the world whether in rich or poor countries, hopes to start shipping hundreds of millions of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine starting later this month.
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