Spain and Italy have moved to restrict using the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine to folks aged above 60, in shifts that may complicate the nations’ efforts to step up their vaccination programmes.
The choices by Madrid and Rome on Wednesday night time got here after the European Medicines Agency mentioned earlier within the day that there was a hyperlink between very uncommon blood clots within the mind and the AstraZeneca jab.
While the EMA, the EU’s prescription drugs regulator, didn’t change its steerage for who ought to take the vaccine, it famous that “so far, most of the cases reported [of blood clots] have occurred in women under 60 years of age within two weeks of vaccination”.
Belgium individually restricted the AstraZeneca vaccine to these aged 56 or older for no less than 4 weeks on Wednesday. Australia moved on Thursday to restrict additional use of the shot in these youthful than 50, with Canberra saying the BioNTech/Pfizer inoculation must be used as a substitute.
France and Germany had additionally beforehand restricted using the shot for the over-55s and over-60s, respectively — trusting that different vaccines, comparable to that from BioNTech/Pfizer and a brand new one-shot inoculation from Johnson & Johnson, shall be adequate to make up the lag within the EU’s vaccination programme.
The UK, which is effectively forward of the EU within the vaccine rollout, abruptly modified its steerage over the AstraZeneca vaccine on Wednesday, recommending that individuals aged between 18 and 29 are provided different jabs. Sweden and Finland permit its use solely within the over-65s, whereas Denmark and Norway have suspended its use till at the very least subsequent week.
Spain’s resolution to use the AstraZeneca vaccine just for folks over 60 reverses the nation’s coverage of just some weeks in the past — till final month it banned using the jab for these over 55.
The new stance may make it extra difficult to attain Spain’s aim — introduced on Tuesday by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez — of vaccinating 70 per cent of the inhabitants, 33m folks, by the top of August.
Isabel Díaz Ayuso, head of the Madrid regional authorities, who’s in search of to retain her publish in elections subsequent month, criticised the rule change.
“You can’t constantly change the criteria,” she mentioned on Thursday. “You can’t switch halfway through the game when many people are already vaccinated, and when there was at last beginning to be some clarity about which vaccines were for which groups of people.”
Varied recommendation on the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine
UK: Under-30s must be provided an alternate to the AstraZeneca jab
Spain and Italy: Limit to use in these over 60
Belgium: Use suspended in folks beneath 56 for the following 4 weeks
France and Canada: Restricted to use in over-55s
Germany: Recommended just for these over 60
Sweden and Finland: Used just for over-65s
Denmark and Norway: Use suspended in all age teams till at the very least subsequent week
Australia: Avoid additional use on under-50s
At current, 6.4m Spaniards have acquired at the very least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. Of these, barely greater than 2m have acquired the AstraZeneca jab, whose use had been accelerating in latest weeks. But, in accordance to official figures issued on Wednesday night time, solely 97 folks in the whole nation have acquired a second AstraZeneca dose.
Carolina Darias, Spain’s well being minister, mentioned the nation had not determined whether or not to administer AstraZeneca or one other vaccine to folks beneath 60 who had already acquired a primary shot of the jab.
The Italian well being ministry additionally issued new steerage in a single day saying the AstraZeneca vaccine must be given “preferential use” in these aged 60 and above. The steerage famous the chance of clots, whereas acknowledging that it was low, and including that the chance of extreme Covid-19 will increase with age.
Italian officers informed a press convention on Wednesday night time that the risk-benefit ratio was nonetheless considerably slanted in direction of administering the vaccine. Italy had additionally initially restricted using the vaccine to youthful sufferers, eradicating age limits as extra information grew to become out there.
Rome’s new pointers clarified that those that had already acquired a dose of the AstraZeneca shot ought to full their vaccination with the identical jab, no matter age.
AstraZeneca on Wednesday acknowledged the findings from the EMA and the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare merchandise Regulatory Agency, whereas noting that greater than 200m doses of the shot had been administered worldwide with a comparatively low variety of side-effects.
The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker mentioned it was working with world authorities to higher perceive the side-effects. The EMA has ordered additional research, to be performed with the Utrecht University and the Erasmus college in Rotterdam.