AstraZeneca Covid Vaccine Can Be Used For Over-65s And To Cure Variants, Recommends WHO

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WHO vaccine experts said on Wednesday the AstraZeneca-Oxford Covid-19 vaccine could be used for people over the age of 65, and also in settings where variants of the virus are circulating.

"Taking the totality of available evidence into account, WHO recommends the vaccine for use in persons aged 65 years and older," The 15-member Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) said in fresh recommendations.

It said the vaccine could also be used in places where "variants are present," despite a recent study suggesting it was far less effective against a strain of the virus first detected in South Africa.

In interim recommendations on the shot, the panel said the vaccine should be given in two doses, with an interval of around 8 to 12 weeks between the first and second doses.

SAGE also said that even where questions have been raised about the vaccine's efficacy against a South African variant of the coronavirus, "there is no reason not to recommend its use".

South Africa this week paused its rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine after data from a small trial showed it did not protect against mild to moderate illness from the 501Y.V2 variant of the coronavirus now dominant in the country.