A draft recommendation from Germany's vaccination advisory committee said the AstraZeneca vaccine should only be given to people aged 18-64 for now
Germany's health minister says he expects the European Union's drug regulator to authorise a further coronavirus vaccine made by AstraZeneca on Friday, but that currently available data may mean it is not recommend for older adults.
Jens Spahn said authorities are waiting to see what advice the European Medicines Agency issues with regard to vaccinations for people over 65, and Germany would then adjust its own guidance for doctors in the country.
“We don't expect an unrestricted approval," Spahn told reporters in Berlin. Questions remain about how well the AstraZeneca vaccine protects older people. Only 12% of the participants in the AstraZeneca research were over 55 and they were enrolled later, so there hasn't been enough time to get results.
On Thursday, a draft recommendation from Germany's vaccination advisory committee said the AstraZeneca vaccine should only be given to people aged 18-64 for now. Britain's medicines regulatory agency also acknowledged the limited data in older people when it cleared the shot last month for people over 18.
A separate study testing the AstraZeneca vaccine in the US is still underway. The shot would be the third COVID-19 vaccine given the greenlight by the EMA, after ones made by Pfizer and Moderna. Those were authorized for all adults.
Spahn's comments come amid a bitter dispute between AstraZeneca and the 27-nation bloc over delayed supplies.
Earlier this week, the 27-nation EU lashed out at AstraZeneca after the British-Swedish drugmaker said it would sharply reduce initial deliveries from 80 million doses to 31 million, blaming manufacturing problems. The EU has threatened to stop any vaccines made in Europe from leaving its borders.
Many countries on the continent have been struggling to vaccinate people as quickly as Britain, Israel, the US and elsewhere. While politicians have blamed supplies for the slow rollout, other factors, like onerous paperwork and poor planning, have also played a role.
The AstraZeneca vaccine has already been authorised in several countries, including Britain, India, Argentina and Mexico. The World Health Organisation is also reviewing it; a recommendation from the US health agency would allow its purchase and distribution to developing countries from a global program known as COVAX.
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.