Italy’s health minister wants to use AstraZeneca vaccine for over 65s

Italy’s health minister wants to use AstraZeneca vaccine for over 65s
Tiziana FABI / AFP
Italy’s health minister, Roberto Speranza, has asked the government to extend the use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine to people over the age of 65, a spokesman for the health minister told Reuters on Friday, March 5th.

When the AstraZeneca vaccine, also commonly referred to as the Oxford vaccine, was approved by the EU, Italy was among several countries which were hesitant about giving the vaccine to older patients, saying that there was a lack of sufficient data for its efficacy.

Now, however, a new Scottish study has shown a significant decrease in the risk of a serious illness from Covid-19 across all age groups following inoculation, including those over 65.

On February 23rd, Italy approved the vaccine for anyone up to the age of 65, with the exception of “extremely vulnerable” people.

The final decision on if the vaccine will be approved for over-65s however, will be up to Italy’s medicines agency AIFA who said: “the position could be revised if new data will allow it”. 

READ ALSO: Italy considers giving single dose of vaccine to people who have had Covid-19

This week, Germany’s vaccine commission also reconsidered and is now recommending the AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccine for people over the age of 65.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday, March 3rd, that the commission would be changing their position on the AstraZeneca jab.

In France, Health Minister Olivier Véran also announced on Monday, March 1st that people aged between 65 and 74 with an underlying health condition can now access the AstraZeneca vaccine through their registered GP.

Speranza also suggested creating a special vaccine “solidarity fund” by saving 1-2 percent of the doses supplied, for areas where the virus is spreading especially fast, in part because of the arrival of new variants. 

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