The Public Health Commission, in which all the autonomous communities are represented, has agreed this Friday that the AstraZeneca vaccine and the University of Oxford will not be inoculated to those over 55 years of age, thus applying it from the age of 18. Although the European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommended it in principle for all ages, the truth is that previous studies on its efficacy are insufficient among subjects of these ages, although “everything indicates” that in these it could maintain its effectiveness, according to the EMA.
In Spain, there are 12,600,000 people between 55 and 80 years old. And none of them would be inoculated with AstraZeneca doses. This forces to select a priority group to whom to administer this drug, of which 1.8 million doses will arrive this month. This Thursday it was already agreed in the same Commission that the doses of AstraZeneca that arrive in Spain will go to the health and social health professionals who are not first-line.
The decision not to vaccinate the elderly is in line with that of other neighboring countries, which this week made their decision public: France, Germany, Poland, Austria.
They all base their decision on the lack of evidence of the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca solution in this age group, although a priori the data do not indicate that it may not be effective. The AstraZeneca vaccine is given as two injections in the arm, the second between 4 and 12 weeks after the first. The most common side effects with the vaccine were generally mild or moderate and improved within days after vaccination. The safety and efficacy of the vaccine will continue to be monitored as it is used throughout the EU, through the EU pharmacovigilance system and further studies by the company and the European authorities.
As acknowledged by the EMA, there are not yet enough results in older participants (over 55 years) to provide a figure of how the vaccine will work in this group. However, protection is expected, since an immune response is observed in this age group and based on experience with other vaccines. AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford assured this Monday that the Covid-19 vaccine they jointly develop has an efficacy of 70.4%.
In a statement, they stated that “the interim phase 3 analysis that includes 131 cases of Covid-19 indicates that the vaccine has an efficacy of 70.4% when data from two dosing regimens are combined” and explained that “the efficacy of the vaccine was 90% in one “of the regimens” and 62% in the other. The most effective used a first dose reduced by half and a second standard dose. These data “also suggest that this half-dose and full-dose regimen could help prevent virus transmission, evidenced by lower rates of asymptomatic infection in those vaccinated,” they stated.