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Germany backs use of AZ/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine in over-65s

Country's Health Ministry also recommended extending gap between doses to 12 weeks

AstraZeneca (AZ) and Oxford University’s COVID-19 vaccine has been approved in Germany for use in over-65s, after the country initially chose not to authorise the jab in older adults.

The German Health Ministry’s Permanent Vaccine Commission has also recommended extending the gap between the first and second dose of the AZ/Oxford vaccine to a maximum of 12 weeks.

This recommendation was based on a study that showed that extending the time between doses improves the efficacy of the vaccine.

The data, published in a preprint with The Lancet, reported that ‘vaccine efficacy was higher, after the second dose, in those with a longer prime-boost interval, reaching 82.4% in those with a dosing interval of 12 weeks or more’.

“This is good news for older people who are waiting for a vaccine. They can now be vaccinated more quickly,” said Germany’s Health Minister Jens Spahn.

“We will shortly issue a regulation implementing both recommendations,” he added.

Earlier this year, AZ refuted German media reports suggesting that the Oxford-partnered vaccine is less effective in people over the age of 65.

The German newspapers Handelsblatt and Bild separately reported that the AZ/Oxford vaccine had an efficacy of only 8% or less than 10% in individuals aged 65 years and over.

In response, AZ said that the reports were 'completely incorrect', citing pre-clinical and clinical data that highlighted the benefit of the vaccine in this patient population.

Both the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have since recommended the use of the AZ/Oxford vaccine in people over the age of 65.

A recent real-world study from Public Health England (PHE) also found that the AZ/Oxford vaccine can significantly reduce severe COVID-19 in older people.

The real-world study’s main outcome measures included symptomatic, PCR-test-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection, hospitalisations and deaths associated with COVID-19 among vaccinated individuals aged 70 years and older.

It found that protection against symptomatic COVID-19 ranged between 60-73% for one dose of the AZ/Oxford vaccine after four weeks.

The data also suggests that in people aged over 80, a single dose of either the AZ/Oxford vaccine or Pfizer/BioNTech’s mRNA-based vaccine is over 80% effective at preventing hospitalisation with COVID-19 around three to four weeks after vaccination.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

5th March 2021

From: Regulatory

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