Spain to extend use of AstraZeneca to 65-year-olds


Spain’s public health commission agreed to extend the use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine for people up to 65 years old. Previously it had only been used for people younger than 55.

The Spanish state TV network RTVE said the decision was taken in a meeting held to identify the groups of the population that should be administered the AstraZeneca vaccine after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said last Thursday that the vaccine was “safe and efficient” and that no links had been discovered between its use and an increased risk of blood clots, Xinhua news agency reported on Monday.

Monday also saw the publication of the results of a trial involving 32,000 people in the US, Chile and Peru, which showed that the vaccine was 79 per cent effective at preventing symptomatic illness and 100 per cent effective against severe infection, and that there was no evidence it caused thrombosis.

Spain had earlier joined other European countries, such as France, Italy and Germany, in suspending the use of this vaccine, but while most countries began administering the AstraZeneca jab almost immediately after the EMA’s announcement, the Spanish Health Ministry gave the public health commission until this Wednesday to decide whether to make any changes to its policy.

Monday’s decision means that the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines will continue to be used for those aged 65 and over, while the AstraZeneca shot will be used for people aged between 18 and 65.

The public health commission has also decided to change Spain’s vaccination policy by putting an end to the strategy of first administering vaccines to groups such as health workers, teachers, policemen or firemen. Vaccines will now be administered on the basis of age as the commission’s experts consider this a key factor in determining the need for eventual hospitalization.

According to the latest available data published by the Health Ministry last Thursday, 5,993,363 vaccine doses had been administered in the country, and 1,886,813 people had received both doses.