German Government Denied Reports that AstraZeneca's Vaccine Is Less Effective in Older People
Reports in German media outlets that the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is less effective in older people appear to be unfounded, the German government said Tuesday.
German newspapers Handelsblatt and Bild reported Tuesday that the vaccine worked significantly less well in those over 65, and that this could affect whether the vaccine was authorised for this age group in EU countries. Bild had the efficacy figure at “less than 10%,” Handelsblatt at 8%.
The German health ministry said the reports appeared to have “mixed up” the data.
“At first glance it seems that the [newspaper] reports have mixed up two things: about 8% of those tested in the AstraZeneca efficacy study were between 56 and 69 [years old], only 3-4% over 70 (MHRA Approval Public Assessment Report),” the ministry said in a statement released on Tuesday, per the Financial Times.
“But one cannot deduce an efficacy of only 8% with older people from that.”
Even though the reports appear misguided, the EMA will not necessarily make the same rulings as UK regulators, and it has had more data from older people to look at.
“It has been known since the autumn that in the first studies that AstraZeneca submitted fewer older people took part than in the studies of other producers,” the ministry said, per the Financial Times.
Adam Finn, professor professor of Paediatrics at the University of Bristol, said in a statement to the Science Media Centre that elderly people were recruited to the UK phase-three trials relatively late and were relatively well shielded, so few cases of COVID-19 had occurred at the time of submission of data to regulators for approval.
“There may have been more by the time of EMA submission,” he said. “No idea where the 8% figure comes from.”
The University of Oxford, which co-developed that vaccine said in a statement that there was no basis for the claims of very low efficacy.
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