The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended the use of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca-Oxford for all adults, including those aged over 65, despite limited data on its efficacy for older people.
The Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) of WHO issued interim recommendations on the vaccine after some European countries advised not to use it for the elderly group, citing insufficient trial data.
“Since we have identified people over 65 as one of our priority groups in the prioritization roadmap – looking at the safety and immunogenicity data – we recommend for the vaccine to be used in people 18 years and above, without an upper age limit.” SAGE Chairman Dr. Alejandro Craviot said.
“That means people over the age of 65 should be given the vaccination,” Cravioto added.
However, some European countries, such as Sweden, Germany, and France had recommended the vaccine only for those aged below 65. Spain has recommended it for those under the age of 55.
Craviato said that the examined clinical trial data had a small participation of people aged over 65, which led to the panel’s recommendation.
“The results of the efficacy estimate for persons up to 65 and older had a wide confidence interval. And therefore we feel that the response of this group cannot be any different to groups that are of a younger age,” Craviato said.
WHO’s Immunization, Vaccines, and Biologicals Program Director Katherine O’Brien backed Craviato’s remarks claiming that efficacy estimates confirm the “significant” efficacy for those over 65.
WHO also said that it was expecting more results from various studies in the coming months.
Last week, South Africa suspended the use of the vaccine due to “disappointing” results that showed “minimal protection” against the more contagious South African variant of the virus.
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