THE Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will again be used in the battle against the Covid-19 virus in Spain from tomorrow and the age limit for those receiving the shot has been raised from 55 to 65.
The jab was suspended after reports of it triggering a rare thrombosis but the Spanish Health ministry has given the vaccine the green light after the European Medicines Agency ruled benefits “outweigh” the risk of side effects.
However, medical teams now face convincing the public the AstraZeneca vaccination is safe. Experts blame mixed messages from governments across Europe for undermining citizen trust – a survey of 1,000 Spaniards showed 56% thought it ‘unsafe’ compared with 25% last month.
Amós García, president of the Spanish Vaccinology Association and a member of the expert committee advising the Spanish government, said: “It is reasonable for people who have had their first shot of this vaccine to now be bewildered; but we have to generate trust and credibility.”
Spain’s Health Minister Carolina Darias has warned there is no “plan B” for a person who rejects the AstraZeneca vaccine – meaning that choosing a different shot is not an option.
AstraZeneca was given clearance to be administered to a wider group of adults by a meeting of the country’s inter-territorial health council on Monday – some regions called for it to be rolled out to all ages but the government wants to analyse results from a large scientific trial in the United States first.
The study of 32,500 people found the vaccine was 79% effective overall in preventing symptomatic infections and 100% effective in preventing severe forms of the disease – in the over 65 age group, a fifth of people in the study, AstraZeneca was 80% effective.
While Spanish government said extending the age limit further was an option, other scientists called for it to be given to everyone.
Daniel López-Acuña, a former director of emergencies at the World Health Organization (WHO), thinks there should be no age limit at all: “I support extending it to all ages. This would allow us to go faster and immunize the more vulnerable individuals,” he said.