Covid-19 Vaccine

EU to decide on AstraZeneca vaccine as Germany advises against jab for over-65s

AstraZeneca has defended the effectiveness of its Covid-19 vaccine amid claims of "insufficient data" for over-65s.
AstraZeneca has defended the effectiveness of its Covid-19 vaccine amid claims of "insufficient data" for over-65s. © Justin Tallis/AFP
2 min

The European Medicines Agency is to announce its verdict on the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine on Friday, a day after health authorities in Germany recommended that the injection not be used for people over the age of 65, citing insufficient data. 

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As the supply of the two already authorised vaccines, from Pfizer and Moderna, continues to be slower than had been hoped across Europe, AstraZeneca are themselves embroiled in a delivery dispute with the 27-nation European bloc.

The EMA decision on authorisation has already been pre-empted by the German Vaccination Commission (STIKO).

Earlier this week, the German health authorities announced that, in the light of the information available, it was "inadvisable" to inject those over 65 with the AstraZeneca treatment.

An expert panel told the Health Ministry in Berlin that there was no clear indication that the British vaccine worked to protect older people, recommending that it be administered only to those in the age range 18 to 64 years.

AstraZeneca reacted to the German announcement, declaring that "the most recent tests" proved the usefulness of their vaccine for those over 65.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson voiced his support, claiming that the vaccine, developed by researchers at Oxford University, was "very good, very efficient...and offers a high level of protection".

Also on Friday, the European Union is to make public the details of the bloc's contract with AstraZeneca, after the company announced that the supply of its vaccine would be slower than originally envisaged. 

Pfizer vaccine declared safe, despite deaths

The European Medicines Agency also announced on Friday that there was no link between the Pfizer/BioNTech injection and post-vaccination deaths. 

The statement came after an investigation into reports of dozens of deaths, mainly in Norway, of people who had received the treatment.

The EMA said it had no new recommendations to make, and that it considers the benefits of the Pfizer vaccine continue to outweigh any risks, adding that occasional allergic reactions are "a known side effect".

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