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No Oxford vaccine for Belgium’s over 55s

Belgian health minister Frank Vandenbroucke (Flemish socialist) has announced that at least for the time being the AstraZeneca vaccine developed in conjunction with scientists at Oxford University in England will not be administered to over 55s.  The decision is linked to the vaccine’s apparent lower efficacity compared to other available vaccines.

The European Medicines Agency only recently OKed the vaccine for use in the EU on all age categories, but Germany and France are not offering it to over 65s because of insufficient data with regard to its efficacity. The Belgian decision is made on advice from the High Council for Health.  At first it seemed Belgium would apply the 65-age limit, but in practice a lower limit will be enforced.

Mr Vandenbroucke envisages that in the short term the decision won’t create any problems, though Belgium has ordered 7 million doses and is relying heavily on this vaccine.

“We still know what to do.  The vaccination campaign is under way.  We’ve already accomplished a lot in care homes.  We are now on the case in hospitals and will vaccinate first line care workers too.  A lot of work still needs to be done before we get to the over 55s.”

“The campaign is steaming ahead.  People should not be worried.  We will have to have a good think about how the campaign will proceed in the long-term e.g. what we will do with older people and 18-to-55s.”

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