France, Poland and Sweden rule out using the Astrazeneca vaccine in the elderly

The health authorities of France, Poland and Sweden have recommended this Tuesday not to use the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca in the elderly.

They join Germany and Italy, which made the same recommendation last week.

Health experts from France and Sweden say that the vaccine should be a priority for people under 65 years of age. Both cite insufficient data from clinical trials for older people.

“This recommendation will be re-examined in light of the availability of additional data,” said France’s national health authority (HAS).

The Swedish public health agency said it expects that data “to come later in the spring from a large US phase 3 clinical trial.”

“It will include a sufficient number of elderly participants to be able to draw more certain conclusions about the protective effect,” he added.

The Polish government has set a lower threshold, recommending the use of the vaccine only in those under 60 years of age.

Germany was the first European country to issue a recommendation of this type, after last Thursday the country’s vaccine committee (STIKO) limited its recommendation of the British vaccine to people between 18 and 64 years old. Italy followed on Saturday, setting the bar even lower, at 55 years.

Euronews has contacted AstraZeneca for comment.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) authorized the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine on January 29 and the University of Oxford, noting that the majority of participants in the studies on which it based its recommendation were between 18 and 55 years old.

“There are not yet enough results in older participants (over 55 years) to provide a figure on the efficacy of the vaccine in this group. However, protection is expected, as an immune response is seen in this group. of age and on the basis of experience with other vaccines, since there is reliable information on the safety of this population, the scientific experts of the EMA considered that the vaccine can be used in older adults, “he said.

75% effective with a single dose

Preliminary data from Phase 3 clinical trial published Wednesday by AstraZeneca revealed that the vaccine is 76% effective in preventing COVID-19 after a single dose, increasing to 82% after a second dose administered 12 weeks or more after the first.

Analysis of the data also showed that the vaccine reduces asymptomatic transmission of the virus. It would also allow the interval between the two doses to be spaced for a longer time, speeding up vaccination.

“This preliminary analysis reconfirms that our vaccine prevents severe disease and prevents people from being hospitalized. In addition, extending the dosing interval not only increases the effectiveness of the vaccine, but also allows more people to be vaccinated in advance.” Sir Mene Pangalos, AstraZeneca’s Executive Vice President of Biopharmaceutical R&D, said in a statement.

“Along with the new findings on reducing transmission, we believe the vaccine will have a real impact on the pandemic,” he added.

According to these new data, the first dose protects for three months.

Additionally, a single dose of the vaccine led to a 67% reduction in positive PCR tests, suggesting that the vaccine has “a substantial impact on virus transmission,” AstraZeneca said.

The primary analysis was based on the results of more than 17,100 participants.

British Health Minister Matt Hancock called the results “absolutely magnificent”.

The announcement comes amid tensions between London and Brussels over Astrazeneca vaccine supply problems to the European Union, which appear to be in the process of resolution.

The EU now also looks to Moscow and could approve the Sputnik V vaccine which, despite the initial bad press, has presented encouraging results in clinical trials.