In a major setback for AstraZeneca, the German vaccine committee has advised against the use of the COVID-19 vaccine on people aged above 65 years. According to a report in the Financial Times, the lack of sufficient data to ascertain its effectiveness in people older than 65 is the reason behind the recommendation.
The Standing Committee on Vaccination at Germany's Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the country's main public health authority, hence recommended the vaccine be given to people ages 18 to 64.
"There are currently insufficient data available to assess the vaccine efficacy from 65 years of age," the committee said in the resolution made available by the German health ministry on Thursday, according to Reuters. "The AstraZeneca vaccine, unlike the mRNA vaccines, should only be offered to people aged 18-64 years at each stage."
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The German panel's recommendation comes two days after AstraZeneca denied media reports that its vaccine is not effective for people over 65 years.
The coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University had an efficacy of less than 10 percent in over-65s, German media had reported. As reported by some local newspapers that AstraZeneca wouldn't receive approval from EU's medicine authority and Thursday's announcement comes in that direction.
While rejecting the German recommendation, AstraZeneca said the clinical trial data for its vaccine can be effective in people aged over 65 years. "We await a regulatory decision on the vaccine by the EMA in the coming days," it said, according to FT.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has already approved use of vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer and permitted its administration to older adults. AstraZeneca vaccine has already been authorised for emergency use in seven countries, including the UK, India, Argentina, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Mexico and Morocco, for immunisation of adults. The EMA is yet to take a decision on whether to approve the vaccine or not.