Citing a lack of data on the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, German authorities have recommended that this vaccine should not be used on people aged 65 or above.
While British-Swedish company promoted the cause of the vaccine calling it safe for use, Germany’s disease control agency the Robert Koch Institute said there was insufficient data to judge how effective the vaccine is for people above 65 and as a result, it could only recommend using the vaccine on people aged 18 to 64.
In all other respects, an RKI advisory committee however mantained that the AstraZeneca vaccine was as “equally suitable” as those manufactured by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.
According to a report by The Guardian, a spokesperson from the University of Oxford, which developed the vaccine, said the clinical trials conducted showed similar immune responses in younger and older adults and high efficacy in younger adults.
While there was not sufficient data on older adults involved in the trials, the team said early figures were promising.
Backing up the claims of AstraZeneca, Mary Ramsay, head of immunizations at PHE vouched for the safety of the vaccine and said that there were too few cases in older people in the AstraZeneca trials to observe precise levels of protection in this group, but data on immune responses were very reassuring.”
However, a week earlier, an article in the business daily Handelsblatt claimed the rate was only 8% among over-65s. As a response to such a finding, Germany’s health ministry suggested the report had mixed up the efficacy rate for over-65s with the proportion of older people involved in AstraZeneca’s trials.
As per reports, Calculations in the German authorities’ draft recommendation show only 6% of participants in the trials were over 65, with 341 of them receiving a shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine and 319 receiving a placebo.
However, in an interview earlier this week, the AstraZeneca chief executive, Pascal Soriot, defended the low number of older participants in the trials carried out by Oxford University, saying: “They didn’t want to vaccinate older people until they had accumulated a lot of safety data in the 18 to 55 group.”
Meanwhile, there were talks that Germany’s health minister, Jens Spahn was considering adjusting the priority list for the AstraZeneca vaccine, starting with younger people with pre-existing conditions or medical staff rather than older people.