COVID: Poland decides against giving elderly AstraZeneca vaccine

Meanwhile, Sweden’s health agency said it would not recommend the AstraZeneca vaccine for people over 65.

People visit a shopping centre which was reopened after coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions were eased in Gdansk, Poland, on February 1, 2021 [Bartosz Banka/Agencja Gazeta via Reuters]

Amid mounting questions over the efficacy of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine on people over 65, Poland has said it will only use the shot on people aged 18-60, the Polish prime minister’s top aide said, following a recommendation from the country’s medical council.

“Yesterday evening, the medical council submitted recommendations regarding the AstraZeneca vaccine, on the basis of which it was decided that it will be used in Poland for people between the ages of 18 and 60,” Michal Dworczyk, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s top aide who is in charge of Poland’s vaccination programme, told a news conference.

Also on Tuesday, Sweden’s health agency said it would not recommend the AstraZeneca vaccine for people over 65.

Poland’s decision follows recommendations by medical experts in Germany and Austria that the vaccine should be given only to people aged between 18 and 64.

Spain’s health ministry, meanwhile, will decide this week whether or not to give AstraZeneca’s vaccine to elderly people.

For its part, AstraZeneca has dismissed concerns over efficacy but acknowledges that the company has less data than other drugmakers on the elderly because it started vaccinating older people later.

“But we have strong data showing very strong antibody production against the virus in the elderly, similar to what we see in younger people,” AstraZeneca Chief Executive Pascal Soriot recently told Germany’s Die Welt newspaper, referring to blood analysis.

Europe’s medicines regulator approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for use on people over the age of 18 on Friday, but said there were not yet enough results for people aged over 55 to determine how well the vaccine will work.

The United Kingdom became the first country to approve the shot on December 30 last year.

The vaccine is cheaper than the other two major shots produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, and unlike its main competitors, it can be stored at a regular fridge temperature.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies