Italy approves AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine for people over 65


Italy has approved the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine for those over 65, becoming the last European country to reverse its stance and give the green light to the use of the vaccine in the elderly.

The decision comes more than three months after the European Medicines Agency authorized the use of the vaccine from the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca AZN,
+ 1.19%,
developed in collaboration with the University of Oxford, for people over the age of 18. But several member states, including Germany and France, have not allowed it for use in people over 65, citing insufficient data for this age group.

“Other scientific evidence now available not only confirms the favorable safety profile of the vaccine, but indicates that, even in subjects over 65 years of age, administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine is able to induce significant protection,” a said the Italian Superior Health Council.

Lily: Single dose of AstraZeneca or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine reduces risk of hospitalization by more than 80%, study finds

The French government has also revised its position on the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, saying last week that older people, including those aged 65 to 74, with pre-existing conditions, could receive the vaccine from primary care practices, hospitals and pharmacies.

People aged over 75 in France will still be offered either the vaccine developed by the American pharmaceutical company Pfizer PFE,
+ 3.05%
and its German partner BioNTech BNTX,
+ 10.95%,
or the photo taken by the American biotech Moderna MRNA,
+ 4.03%,
in a vaccination center, French Minister of Health Olivier Véran said last week.

The German Vaccine Commission, which has also approved the use of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine in people over the age of 65, has recommended extending the period between receiving the first and second dose to a maximum of 12 weeks.

The reassessments are expected to help speed up the EU‘s vaccination campaign, which has come under heavy criticism for being too slow, exacerbating a dispute between AstraZeneca and the EU over persistent vaccine shortages in the bloc caused by production problems.

Lily: Italy’s ban on AstraZeneca exports to Australia raises fears of vaccine nationalism

Last week, Italy blocked the export of 250,000 doses of the AstraZeneca – Oxford vaccine to Australia after the drug manufacturer failed to honor its contractual commitments with the EU. It was the first use of new rules established by the EU in January to better control the supply of doses within the bloc.

The Italian Foreign Ministry cited three main reasons for blocking the shipment, including the fact that Australia is not considered a “vulnerable” country and that too many doses are exported outside the EU compared to those provided to the countries of the bloc.

France could block shipments of COVID-19 vaccines abroad, like the measures taken on this front by Italy, Reuters reported on Friday.

Lily: AstraZeneca executive told Congress he could have 50 million doses of his COVID-19 vaccine ready in April

AstraZeneca said last month it still aims to deliver 180 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to the EU in the second quarter of the year.

The Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company agreed in August 2020 to supply up to 400 million doses to the EU. Based on the revised delivery schedule, that included 90 million in the first quarter of 2021 and 180 million in the second quarter, as the company announced earlier this month.


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