A senior official from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said in an interview published on Sunday that it would be better to stop AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine for all age groups when other options are available.
Marco Cavaleri, head of vaccine strategy at EMA, also told the Italian newspaper The print that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should preferably be used for those over 60 years of age.
Both of these viral vector vaccines have been approved by the European regulator for those over 18, but have been reported to have rare blood clots. The EU has also authorized two messenger RNA vaccines, those from Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna.
Italy on Saturday restricted the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine to people aged 60 and over, due to increased health risks for younger people.
Asked whether it would not be better to ban AstraZeneca, including for those over 60, Mr Cavaleri replied: ‘Yes, and it is an option that many countries, like France and Germany, are considering in light of the increased availability of messenger RNA vaccines. However, incidents were very rare and happened after the first dose. It is true that there is less data on the second dose, but in the UK it is [le programme de vaccination] is going well. […] In young people, the risk of becoming ill decreases, and the message to them might be to use messenger RNA vaccines in preference, but the choice is left to each state. “
He said Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine presented “fewer problems than AstraZeneca,” but said it had been used less widely. “With a single dose, it is useful for some hard-to-reach categories, but there is still a [vaccin] adenovirus, and it is better to reserve it for over 60 years, ”he said.
In young people, the risk of becoming ill is reduced, and the message to them might be to use messenger RNA vaccines preferably, but the choice is left to each state.
In a brief comment then posted on Twitter, the EMA lamented “misinformation [qui] circulating today ”. “Here is the situation: the benefit / risk ratio of AstraZeneca’s vaccine against COVID-19 is positive and it remains authorized for all populations,” the Agency stressed.
Messenger RNA technology involves injecting our cells with strands of genetic instructions to make them make proteins or “antigens” specific to the coronavirus. These proteins will be delivered to the immune system, which will then produce antibodies.
Viral vector vaccines, such as those from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, use another virus as a carrier, which is modified so that it carries genetic information in the body to fight COVID-19. Both use a very common type of virus called adenovirus as a carrier.