France Limits AstraZeneca Covid Jab to Over-55s

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) yesterday declared the AstraZeneca Covid jab “safe and effective” to use, but the sustained fear over rare but serious cases of a brain blood clot disorder means a number of countries are still treading cautiously. France, for example, has limited the rollout of this jab to the over-55s. The Guardian has the story.

France has said only people aged 55 and over should receive the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine, and three Scandinavian countries have reserved judgment until next week, a day after Europe’s health regulator declared the shot safe and effective for all age groups.

As politicians launched an urgent effort to convince citizens of the vaccine’s safety, the French health regulator said the shot’s use should resume “without delay”. France was among more than a dozen EU states to suspend the shot this week.

But Dominique Le Guludec, the head of the regulator, said it should be provisionally reserved for people aged 55 and over until further information was available, on the basis of rare but serious cases of a brain blood clot disorder known as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST).

Le Guludec said 25 people who had received the AstraZeneca shot had fallen ill with the disorder in Europe, and nine aged under 55, most of them women, had died. The cases needed further investigation, she said.

In a statement yesterday, the EMA said it “cannot rule out definitively” a link to the rare clotting disorder. The Telegraph reported:

The European Medicine’s Agency has said they “cannot rule out definitively” a link to a rare clotting disorder.

The agency will update its guidance to include an explanation about the potential risks on both the patient leaflet and in the information for healthcare professionals, the chief of the EMA said.

But Emer Cooke said in a briefing the “clear” conclusion of the review was that the vaccine “benefits in protecting people from Covid with the associated risk of death or hospitalisation outweighs the possible risks”.

For a number of European countries, including Norway, Denmark and Sweden, the EMA’s findings were not reassuring enough. More from the Guardian:

Norway, whose expert panel said on Thursday it was “convinced” of a link between the shot and the rare brain blood clots, Sweden, which reported one death from clotting and heavy bleeding, and Denmark said they needed more time before making a decision.

Norway’s Institute of Public Health said it “took note” of the EMA finding but felt it was “premature” to come to a final conclusion, saying it would issue its own guidance late next week.

Sweden said it would “examine the information” and hoped to decide within days “on the best way to use this vaccine in the future”. Søren Brostrøm, head of the Danish health authority, said it needed “time to get to the bottom of this… We need to look for causal relations and see if there are other explanations”.

Finland said it was suspending the use of the jab while it investigates two possible cases of blood clots.

Worth reading in full.

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