BERLIN (AP) – The German Independent Vaccine Committee has officially approved the shooting of AstraZeneca in people over the age of 65, the health minister said on Thursday.
The decision was “good news for older people waiting for vaccinations,” said Minister Jens Spah. “They will be vaccinated faster.”
The vaccine, developed by the British-Swedish company AstraZeneca, is one of three countries authorized for use in 27 countries in the European Union. But some countries, including Germany, initially limited it to only 65, or in some cases up to 55 years old, citing a lack of data on its effectiveness in the elderly.
But the release of data և pressure to accelerate the slow spread of EU vaccines has prompted all bloc authorities to reconsider their guidelines.
The independent committee, known by its German acronym StiKo, also advised to wait 12 weeks between running AstraZeneca’s first և second shot և as studies show that this increases the effectiveness of the vaccine, Span said.
He said both proposals would be quickly incorporated into German vaccine rules, which the government said would be repaired late Wednesday evening so more people could take pictures sooner.
Restrictive rules and hasty deliveries mean that Germany is sitting on more than 2 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, even for those who wish they could not get it.
Earlier this week, France, Belgium and Italy eased their age restrictions on the AstraZeneca vaccine as they struggled to cope with the upcoming third concussion of COVID-19 cases due to more contagious versions of the virus.
Data from this week’s mass immunization program in the UK show that AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are about 60% more effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 in people over the age of 70 after just one dose. An analysis published by the Public Health England in England, which has not yet been reviewed by peers, also showed that both vaccines were about 80% effective in preventing people over the age of 80 from being hospitalized.