Regulators authorised AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine for use in adults throughout the European Union on Friday, amid criticism the bloc is not moving fast enough to vaccinate its population.
The European Medicines Agency licensed the vaccine to be used in people 18 and over, though concerns had been raised this week that not enough data exist to prove it works in older people.
The shot is the third COVID-19 vaccine given the greenlight by the European Medicines Agency, after ones made by Pfizer and Moderna. Both were authorized for all adults.
Many countries on the continent have been struggling to vaccinate people as quickly as Britain, Israel, the U.S. and elsewhere, and it was long hoped that the AstraZeneca shot would help speed things up. On top of the recent news that the drugmaker would supply fewer doses in an initial batch, there were concerns that an age restriction would further hamper Europe’s vaccination program.
Some doctors feared restricting the vaccine’s use in older people might worsen the pandemic’s impact, since older people have suffered more severe disease and died at a higher rate from the coronavirus.
But in its decision Friday, the European agency said the AstraZeneca vaccine, developed with Oxford University, would be recommended for use all adults.
While the AstraZeneca vaccine has been authorized for all adults in other countries, only 12 per cent of the participants in its research were over 55 and they were enrolled later, so there hasn’t been enough time to get results.
A large trial published last month showed the vaccine was about 70 per cent effective in preventing people from getting sick from the coronavirus, although it is unknown whether the shot stops disease transmission. (A