German panel advises against AstraZeneca jab for over-65s

BERLIN, GERMANY (AFP) – Germany’s vaccine commission said on Thursday it could not recommend the use of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine for older people, the latest twist in a row over the jab that has put Britain and the European Union (EU) on a collision course.

The panel of scientific experts, called STIKO, said the vaccine should only be given to people aged 18 to 65 years old as “there is currently insufficient data to assess the efficacy of the vaccine for persons aged 65 and older”.

AstraZeneca and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson immediately defended the jabs, which have already been widely used in Britain on older people.

A spokesperson for the British-Swedish company said the latest clinical trial data for its vaccine, developed with Oxford University, “support efficacy in the over 65 years age group”.

Johnson told reporters the United Kingdom’s (UK) own regulator had established “that they think the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is very good and efficacious, gives a high degree of protection”.

AstraZeneca and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended the effectiveness of its COVID-19 vaccine. PHOTO: AFP

AstraZeneca’s vaccine has not been granted approval yet for general use in the EU.

But the bloc’s medicines regulator EMA is poised authorised it yesterday.

The latest doubt over the vaccine came as AstraZeneca was already locked in a increasingly bitter spat with the EU over delivery problems.

Citing issues with its European factories, the company has informed the EU that it could only supply a quarter of the doses it had promised for the first quarter of 2021.

The huge delivery delay adds a further stumbling block to the EU’s already sluggish rollout of the vaccine compared to Britain or the United States.