“This is good news for all older people who are waiting for a vaccine. They will be able to get vaccinated earlier “, said the German Health Minister, Jens Spahn, commenting on the news that the German Health Committee known by the acronym of Stiko, also approved the AstraZeneca vaccine for people over the age of 65.
Stiko thus changed the initial recommendation, dated January 28, in which it assured that the preparation was safe but that there was not yet sufficient data on its effectiveness in elderly people.
Germany thus became the first European country to recommend it only for the 18-65 age group, which contributed to a vaccine reputation problem across the European Union.
In Germany, the bad press of the vaccine from the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company meant that many workers, for whom it was intended, refused to receive it and canceled appointments at vaccination centers. This problem, coupled with poor management of the vaccination campaign, meant that three out of four doses remained unadvised.
In fact, the Committee has not yet fully formulated the official recommendation to the government but said that “given the extraordinary situation and the great and understandable need for information of the population” has decided to communicate that it has already taken the decision. Its chairman, virologist Thomas Mertens, explained in an interview that the Committee would change its mind in light of the new efficacy data in the elderly from Scotland and England. And the Minister of Health, Jens Spahn, also spoke of vaccinating the elderly with AstraZeneca.
In recent days, criticism has raged over the infuriatingly slow vaccination rate across the country. There have been federal states that, for example, don’t vaccinate on Sundays. In the case of Astra Zeneca, there is no shortage problem as there are nearly 1.5 million doses untouched for waste and poor planning.
The health minister also referred to the new vaccination guideline that Stiko recommended implementing.
As is done in the UK, the first and second dose will take 12 weeks as the vaccine has been shown to be more effective. “We will implement both recommendations in the regulation very soon,” Spahn said. The Committee also ruled that people who have already passed the infection must wait at least six months before being vaccinated.
The decision “is based on a thorough analysis and evaluation of new data, which were not available as advance publications until a few days ago,” says Stiko. Vaccine use data in England and Scotland provide “for for the first time robust results on the impressive efficacy of the vaccine in the older age groups after a single dose of the vaccine ”.