Spanish health chiefs have followed France, Germany, Italy and Austria in imposing age restrictions on the vaccine amid concerns over a lack of data on it use on the elderly. The decision came just hours after UK drugs regulators received extra trial data from AstraZeneca supports their view that the vaccine, developed by scientists at Oxford University, is effective in the elderly.
Britain has been rolling out the shot among all age groups after the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) was the first regulator to approve it in December.
Munir Pirmohamed, Chair of the Commission on Human Medicines’ Covid-19 Vaccines Benefit Risk Expert Working Group said British regulators had noticed the smaller number of under-65s in the data when they approved the vaccine.
He said: “Nevertheless, there was no evidence that those people over 65 were not getting evidence of efficacy.
“Since then we’ve seen more data coming through from AstraZeneca as more people are completing the trial, which highlights again that efficacy in the elderly is seen, and there’s no evidence of lack of efficacy.”
Dr Pirmohamed said elderly people were generating strong immune responses, and said that the most important thing was that both AstraZeneca’s vaccine and a shot developed by Pfizer and BioNTech were preventing serious disease and deaths.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said that the EU has decided not to compromise on safety as she defends the slower pace of approval of shots in the bloc.
MHRA Chief Executive June Raine defended the regulator’s standards when asked if the UK had compromised on safety and efficacy standards.
She said: “I think our position is very clear in terms of the rigorous science that MHRA pursues in the interests of public confidence, public safety, and the effectiveness of these important vaccines.”
Trials have also suggested the vaccine is successful against new strains of the virus.
Oxford University said it had found the vaccine had similar efficacy against the variant first identified in Kent as previously circulating strains.
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