Europe’s medicines regulator on Friday recommended approving AstraZeneca and Oxford University’s COVID-19 vaccine for people over the age of 18, the third vaccine to be cleared for use in the European Union.
The AstraZeneca vaccine demonstrated an efficacy of around 60% in the trials on which it based its decision, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said in a statement.
There were not yet enough results for people over the age of 55 to determine how well the vaccine would work for this group, EMA said. However, it said protection was expected and that the vaccine can be given to older people.
“With this third positive opinion, we have further expanded the arsenal of vaccines available to EU and EEA member states to combat the pandemic and protect their citizens,” said Emer Cooke, Executive Director of EMA.
Europe urgently needs more shots to speed up its inoculation programme with suppliers such as AstraZeneca and Pfizer facing difficulties in delivering the quantities promised for the early months of the year.
The AstraZeneca vaccine is administered via two injections into the arm, the second between 4 and 12 weeks after the first.
Concerns over its value for the elderly were raised on Thursday when Germany’s vaccine committee said it should be given only to people aged between 18 and 64, due to a lack of data about how effective it is in older people.