The head of the Covid-19 task force of the European Medicines Regulatory Authority, Marco Cavalieri, said that “it is better to give virus vaccines that work on the principle of RNA” to people over 60 years of age and to avoid giving the AstraZeneca vaccine to these groups.
Reuters quoted Cavalieri, who was speaking to an Italian newspaper, on Sunday, as saying that “in light of the availability of these vaccines, there are many countries considering preventing the administration of AstraZeneca, such as Germany and France.”
The European Medicines Agency considers the AstraZeneca vaccine safe for all age groups, however, many member states of the European Union have stopped giving it to people aged 50 to 65 years, and have limited its use to the older population, after recording rare cases of blood clotting among those who received it. This is the case, especially among young people.
“Our position has been, and remains, that the risk-benefit ratio is still favorable for all age groups,” Cavalieri said, adding, “But with lower numbers of infections, and taking into account that younger populations are less exposed to the risks associated with infection, it is better to use DNA vaccines ribeye, like Moderna and Pfizer.”
When asked whether health authorities should avoid giving the AstraZeneca vaccine to people over the age of 60, Cavalieri said: “Yes.”
On Sunday, the Italian government said it would limit the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine to people over the age of 60 after a teenager who received a dose of the vaccine died from a rare form of blood clotting.
Thromboembolism is rare but troublesome in the younger age group, who are at higher risk of thrombosis and less likely to develop severe COVID-19 disease.
Rare cases of blood clots raised scientists’ concerns and led some European countries to suspend the use of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine for a short period before reusing it, given that its “benefit is much higher than its risk,” according to European health officials.