Germany has decided to restrict the administration of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine to persons above the age of 65 years. German authorities cited a seeming lack of corroborative data to support the potency of this vaccine on this particular age group, Fox News reports.
This latest development is coming on the heels of an altercation between the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company and the European Union over the former’s inability to meet up with supplies.
A statement by the German interior ministry on Thursday said its leading public health authority, the Robert Koch Institute, was unable to find sufficient data to support the effectiveness of the vaccine in people over 65. The ministry noted that the small number of study volunteers for this age group was a contributing factor to the insufficient data obtained. Therefore, the German authorities announced it was only recommending the vaccine for persons aged 18 to 64 years.
AstraZeneca was quick to respond to the announcement by the German authorities. A spokesperson for the company said a series of recent clinical trials showed that its vaccine was effective in individuals 65 years old and above. The company said it would be awaiting a verdict by the European Union, which was expected to approve AstraZeneca’s vaccine in all countries within the EU bloc on Friday.
During the week, the company noted that Britain approved the use of the vaccine in older citizens despite the lack of data to support the effectiveness of the vaccine in older patients. AstraZeneca referenced a study published in Lancet journal, which showed that elderly patients responded effectively to the vaccine when administered. The study had demonstrated that these patients experienced a surge in their antibody levels when given a second dose of the vaccine.
Yet, many have questioned just how effective the vaccine is on older patients. The clinical research by AstraZeneca last year had only 12 percent of the participants aged over 55 years old. On the other hand, this elderly age group was only admitted late into the trial. In essence, there wasn’t enough time to adequately judge the efficacy of the vaccine in this age group.
The German authorities assured the public that this was only an initial assessment and wasn’t a final evaluation. There would be a final verdict when the vaccine has been approved for use by European Union regulators.
Meanwhile, the European Union has accused AstraZeneca of delaying the supply of its vaccine to the region. However, the drugmaker said it was unable to meet up with the demands by the EU due to production challenges. Yet, the EU is having none of the excuses given by AstraZeneca, as it demanded that the company must shore up its supply.
Many companies in Europe are running short or may have run short of the vaccine. The regional government of Madrid in Spain had to halt the administration of the vaccine on citizens pending when supplies are shored up. Germany is another country having major supply challenges. On Friday, France said it was pushing back on administering the first dose of the Pfizer-made vaccines pending when supplies become available.