Health Care

Germany to restrict AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines to over-60s

Germany to restrict AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines to over-60s”

The news is a further blow to the vaccine, which is critical to Europe's immunization campaign and a linchpin in the global strategy to get shots to poorer countries.

These changes are "intended to scale up production capacity and increase supply of the vaccine for the European Union market", the regulator said.

The province announced the update Tuesday after pausing the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine for people under the age of 55, following the advice of Canada's vaccine advisory committee as it investigates very rare instances of blood clots in some immunized patients.

German regulators said they had received 31 reports of rare blood clots in the head in recipients of the AstraZeneca vaccine and nine deaths up to March 29, roughly doubling the number that had been reported in the country by March 22.

Since then, however, authorities in Canada have looked at a study by Germany's Paul-Ehrlich-Institute, which says rates of blood clotting could be as high as one in 100,000 people, rather than one in 1 million, as previously stated.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is 66, said this week that she would be prepared to take the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The EMA's Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) met yesterday as part of an ongoing review into "very rare" cases of blood clots with low numbers of platelets in people vaccinated with the AZ/Oxford vaccine - which has now been given the brand name Vaxzevria in the EU.

More news: Possibility Covid-19 came from a lab needs further investigation, World Health Organization says

Resumed use of the vaccine on March 25 for people aged 65 and older, its health agency said, but restrictions are in place for Swedes under 65 years.

The European Union´s medicines regulator on Friday said it has approved new manufacturing sites for coronavirus vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca, in a move that could significantly boost Europe´s supply of the shots and speed vaccination efforts across the continent. Health Canada, the United Kingdom Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency and the European Medicines Agency all continue to recommend the use of the vaccine. Earlier on Tuesday, two Berlin-based and state-owned hospitals said they'd halted the administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine to female staff members younger than 55 years old.

"We were asked to step up in a quick way and we've certainly done that", she said Wednesday.

Adam Finn, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Bristol, said there was no compelling evidence yet that the vaccine is to blame for the rare clots. "At the moment, Pfizer is only approved for people over 16, with the other vaccines only being approved for people over 18".

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says that the AstraZeneca and COVISHIELD vaccines will be an "important tool" in getting BC past its current surge of COVID-19 cases.

"Subsequent deliveries will come every month", he said at a press conference after launching the Corporate Collaboration for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme on Wednesday (March 31), an event that was also broadcast on social media. But he said the supply would now be made available to people over 60 who might otherwise have had to wait longer, reducing their risk of falling seriously ill with COVID-19.

She added that about 900 doses of that vaccine had been given to Albertans under the age of 55 before its use was limited. So far, it has only been vaccinating people aged over 70 and those in high priority groups.

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