AstraZeneca's COVID-19 shot shouldn't be given to people over 65, Germany's vaccine committee reportedly says

  • The COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford should not be used in anyone over 65-years-old, Germany's main public health agency reportedly said on Thursday.
  • "There are currently insufficient data available to assess the vaccine efficacy from 65 years of age," said the Vaccine Commission at the Robert Koch Institute, Reuters reported.
  • The EMA is expected to make a decision on whether to approve AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine Friday.
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The COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford shouldn't be given to people over age 65, Germany's main public health agency said Thursday, multiple media outlets reported.

"There are currently insufficient data available to assess the vaccine efficacy from 65 years of age," said the Vaccine Commission at the Robert Koch Institute, Reuters reported. For that reason, the health body recommended that the vaccine only be given to people ages 18 to 64, according to Reuters and the Financial Times.

COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer have already already been approved by the the EU regulator, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), and can be given to older adults.

AstraZeneca's vaccine has been authorized for emergency use in seven countries — the UK, India, Argentina, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Mexico and Morocco — for the immunization "of adults".  Eighty-two year-old Brian Pinker was the first to receive the AstraZeneca shot outside of a trial on January 4. 

It isn't yet authorized for use in Germany or other EU countries. The EMA is expected to make a decision on whether to approve the vaccine on Friday.

It follows an announcement Tuesday from the German health ministry that reports in German media that AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine was less effective in older people appeared to be unfounded. 

However, even though the reports appear misguided, the EMA might not make the same decision as other regulators, and it has had more data from older people to look at.

"It has been known since the autumn that in the first studies that AstraZeneca submitted, fewer older people took part than in the studies of other producers," the ministry said Tuesday, per the Financial Times.

Oxford University, who co-developed the vaccine, said in a statement Tuesday that results of the clinical trials had been published transparently in five peer-reviewed scientific publications, and showed similar immune responses in younger and older adults and a good safety profile, and high efficacy in younger adults.

This is the latest tussle over AstraZeneca's vaccine by EU countries. There are already tensions between AstraZeneca and the EU due to potential vaccine shortages.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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