The Standing Commission on Vaccination (Stiko) now recommends the use of the Astra-Zeneca's Corona vaccine for people 65 years old or older.
It is expected that after submission of the so-called confidential opinion, the recommendation will be generally accepted. Immediately thereafter, the Corona vaccination regulation of the Federal Ministry of Health under Jens Spahn (CDU), which is under revision anyway, is likely to be amended. Astra-Zeneca's vaccination of the elderly could then begin next week.
The decision is of great importance for accelerating the vaccination campaign, as the vaccine is the most available behind that of Biontech and large quantities are currently stored unused in refrigerators. In an increasing number of states, vaccination is being given to people in priority groups 1 and 2 who are older than 65 years and have not yet received an active ingredient from Astra-Zeneca, but have received that from Biontech or Moderna. Because the latter two agents remain in short supply, but doses from Astra-Zeneca are more than adequate, vaccination should now proceed more quickly, officials hope.
Astra-Zeneca is generally approved in the EU, and thus also in Germany, for use in people aged 18 and older. However, the Stiko had advised against the use of the vaccine in older people, as the available data had not been sufficient. Now, however, new studies are available that also demonstrate a high level of efficacy and safety for seniors. These are studies from Great Britain and Brussels. A study in Belgium was published only on Wednesday and has apparently given with the crucial factor for the Stiko decision.
The panel, based at the Robert Koch Institute, also recommends in its statement that the intervals between Astra-Zeneca vaccinations should be used as far as the approval allows in order to protect as many people as possible as quickly as possible. That would mean waiting up to 12 weeks before giving the second injection. The Standing Commission on Vaccination spent two days with two dozen experts reviewing the recommendations.
Image by Torsten Ssimon