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WHO panel recommends AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for over-65s

Published on 11/02/21 at 09:43am

Scientists advising the WHO have recommended the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in all adults, including those aged over 65.

The recommendation, issued on Wednesday by the WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on immunisation, comes after a number of countries decided over-65s should not receive the jab.

Several European countries – including France, Germany, and Sweden – do not recommend administering AstraZeneca’s vaccine to those in the older age group. In Spain and other countries, it is only recommended for use in those aged 55 or younger.

Guidelines published by Spanish health authorities this week advised against giving the company’s vaccine to people aged over 55 years or those with serious illness, saying there is no data to show it is effective in the groups.

Dr Alejandro Cravioto, Chairman of the advisory group, acknowledged that there is currently limited data regarding the jab’s efficacy in over-65s, but said SAGE still recommended its use “for 18 years and above without an upper age limit”.

Dr Cravioto told journalists: “In the case of the data coming from clinical trials, we have seen that there was a small participation of people over 65 years of age.

“However, the results of the efficacy estimate for persons up to 65 and older had a wide confidence interval. And therefore, we feel that the response of this group cannot be any different to groups that are of a younger age.

“Since we have identified people over 65 as one of our priority groups in the prioritisation roadmap – looking at the safety and immunogenicity data – we recommend for the vaccine to be used in people 18 years and above, without an upper age limit.

“That means people over 65 years of age should be given the vaccination.”

Darcy Jimenez

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