France will only offer the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine to people over the age of 55 adding to confusion surrounding the vaccine a day after the French Prime Minister approved it following the European Medicines Agency deeming the shot “safe and effective.”
French Prime Minister Jean Castex, 55-years-old, was vaccinated with the AstraZeneca Covid-19 … [+]
Though the EMA said it did not find a causal link between the vaccine and blood clots Thursday and said the vaccine’s benefits outweigh any possible risks, France justified the new age restriction based on the fact that all three French reports of rare blood clotting occured in people under the age of 55.
The decision, which is the third time French authorities have changed their stance on the AstraZeneca vaccine since first approving it for those under the age of 65 in February, adds to confusion across the bloc surrounding the safety of the shot which is also backed by the World Health Organization, the company and the U.K.’s medicines regulator.
Most of the countries that suspended the shot announced their intention to resume vaccination without age restriction in light of the EMA’s findings, although Spain is debating a similar restriction to France and regulators in Denmark, Sweden and Norway said they need more time to better evaluate the potential link between the vaccine and blood clots.
France’s 55-year-old Prime Minister Jean Castex received the shot Friday afternoon in bid to “restore public confidence,” which has taken a knock with the repeated setbacks in the bloc’s rollout.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine was once held up as a beacon of hope for most of the world, a more accessible, affordable and practical alternative to offerings from Pfizer and Moderna. However, and in spite of clinical trials showing it to be safe, well-tolerated and effective, it has been mired in seemingly endless controversy and the repeated flip flop of decision making has dented public confidence in the vaccine at home and abroad. Overall, experts are concerned these decisions are eroding confidence in vaccines just as the world is fighting to keep up with a mutating virus which has already killed more than 2.6 million people.
Whether other countries could follow in France’s footsteps or forge their own guidelines should they disagree with the EMA’s recommendations. Though many look to the EMA for guidance, European member states are able to make their own decisions regarding what to approve.
Despite its approval by major European regulators and the World Health Organization, the AstraZeneca shot is not authorized for use in the U.S.. The company hasn’t actually applied yet, likely waiting for results in its U.S.-based clinical trial. The New York Times reported the U.S. is sitting on tens of millions of doses ahead of this approval, doses other countries sorely need and have requested access to.
French authority says AstraZeneca vaccine should only go to those over 55 (Politico)
Revenge of the precautionary principle (Politico)
EU Agency OKs AstraZeneca Vaccine Ruling Out Broad Link To Blood Clotting (Forbes)
Experts Defend Safety Of AstraZeneca Covid-19 Vaccine After Several Countries Suspend The Shot (Forbes)
Politics, Not Science, May Be Behind Suspensions Of AstraZeneca’s Covid Vaccine (Forbes)
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I am a London-based reporter for Forbes covering breaking news. Previously, I have worked as a reporter for a specialist legal publication covering big data and as a