French Health Body Recommends AstraZeneca Shot up to Age 64

France’s national health body declined to recommend giving AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 vaccine to people age 65 and over, the latest European country to suggest limits on its use.

“The data currently available for people aged 65 years or over is limited by a small sample size and doesn’t allow conclusions on the safety and efficacy” in that group, the National Authority for Health said in a statement on Tuesday.

France is counting on the AstraZeneca shot to speed up its vaccination campaign, after criticism of a slow start there and across the European Union. The inoculation adds to the vaccines by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE and that of Moderna Inc already being administered in the country.

President Emmanuel Macron has raised doubts about the efficacy of the AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford shot for older patients, calling it “quasi-ineffective” for people over the age of 65, Agence France-Presse reported on Friday, citing his office.

The French health body is awaiting a U.S. trial of the vaccine that includes “a large number” of people over 65, with results expected “in about two weeks,” Elisabeth Bouvet, who heads its technical committee on vaccines, said in a press conference Tueday.

Germany, Italy

The authority is following the lead of Germany’s immunization authority, which has said the inoculation should be authorized only for people between the ages of 18 and 64 due to a lack of trial data in older groups.

Italy’s medicines agency Aifa clarified on Tuesday that the AstraZeneca vaccine is recommended only for people aged 18-55 without previous conditions. More evidence is needed on the risk-benefit balance of the vaccine before recommending it for senior citizens, it said.

The EU’s drug regulator on Jan. 29 cleared the vaccine from Astra for all adults. The European Medicines Agency said that while most trial participants were aged between 18 and 55 and there wasn’t enough data to pinpoint the vaccine’s efficacy in older adults, the shot has shown an immune response in the older age group and is safe.

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