AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine safe for over 65s, says WHO
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AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine safe for over 65s, says WHO

Credit: Belga

AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine is safe for use in people aged 65 and over, including in countries where more infectious coronavirus variants may be present, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

On Wednesday, the WHO stated that even though not much data on the efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine among the elderly is available, it still recommends its use for over 65s, based on the available evidence.

“More precise efficacy estimates for this age group are expected soon, from both ongoing trials and vaccine effectiveness studies in countries that are using this vaccine,” the WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) said.

“Immune responses induced by the vaccine in older persons are well documented and similar to those in other age groups,” the SAGE said, adding that this suggests that “it is likely that the vaccine will be found to be efficacious in older persons.”

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The recommendation comes after a study in South Africa showed that the vaccine appears to offer less protection against mild and moderate disease after infection with a coronavirus variant, causing the country to temporarily suspended the vaccination campaign with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Even though the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved it for use in all age adult groups at the end of January, several countries – including Belgium – still advised against it.

Last week, the Belgian authorities decided not to administer the AstraZeneca vaccine to people over the age of 55 for now, based on a recommendation from the Superior Health Council.

This decision will eventually have consequences for the country’s vaccination strategy, as Belgium has ordered 7 million doses of the vaccine.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times