French President Emmanuel Macron (L) takes pictures with his smartphone from a file held by German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) during an EU top in Brussels on July 20, 2020. JOHN THYS|AFP|Getty Images
LONDON– European authorities are coming under increasing pressure to reverse constraints on who can receive the AstraZeneca-Oxford coronavirus vaccine, and to drum up support for the shot. On Monday, France performed a U-turn on previous guidance over who can get the vaccine, now advising the AstraZeneca shot to anyone under 75 (up from a previous age limitation of 65), consisting of those with pre-existing illness. Italy, Sweden and Poland have actually implemented similarly age-restrictive standards on who can receive the AstraZeneca shot, however France’s move has increased expectations that they too might do the same and provide the jab to older age. A renowned immunologist in Germany previously this week contacted his country to alter its stance, echoing remarks from other health specialists in the country. Talking to the BBC, Carsten Watzl, head of the German Society for Immunology, advised Chancellor Angela Merkel to take the vaccine live on TELEVISION to reveal it’s safe. Watzl’s remarks come in the middle of stress over the EU’s sluggish vaccine rollout and increasing hesitancy over the AstraZeneca shot. In addition, parts of Europe are battling to fend off a third wave of infections, mostly brought on by the spread of more transmittable versions, lending more seriousness to the use up of vaccines.
Germany’s vaccination committee has suggested that it is reviewing its earlier assistance and might release an update soon. The head of the committee, Thomas Mertens, told broadcaster ZDF on Friday that it was “possible” the vaccine could likewise be cleared for the over-65s. He also protected the committee from criticism that it had been too critical toward the AstraZeneca vaccine amid reports that countless dosages were going unused in Germany, and beyond in Europe, due to public apprehension (and misapprehension) over it. “We never slammed the vaccine, we just criticized the lack of data for the over-65 age,” Mertens stated. However, he yielded that the general public messaging over the vaccine had actually “in some way failed.” Prominent health specialists in France have likewise denounced what one referred to as “AstraZeneca bashing” and French Health Minister Olivier Veran went as far as to have the shot live on TV.
Europe’s drug regulator, the European Medicines Company, approved the vaccine developed by the British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant and the University of Oxford in January, however France and Germany’s health regulators, to name a few in Europe, only approved the vaccine for the under-65s, saying there was inadequate evidence to show the vaccine’s effectiveness in the higher age group. That hesitancy has fed through into dull take up of the shot by the public. The AFP news company reported Monday that only 273,000 AstraZeneca dosages had been administered in France out of 1.7 million received as of end-February, mentioning health ministry figures. Recently, Germany’s health ministry stated it had actually administered only 15% of the Oxford shots it had offered, Reuters reported. Public belief has actually not been assisted by rather ambivalent comments from some senior European officials.