French health body clears AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

FILE PHOTO: A vial and sryinge are seen in front of a displayed AstraZeneca logo in this illustration taken January 11, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) -France’s top health advisory body on Tuesday approved the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, four days after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) gave the green light, but said the shot should only be administered to those aged under 65.

The Haute Autorite de la Sante (HAS), an independent body whose recommendations are usually closely followed by the government, added that people aged 50 to 65 with health issues and medical staff should get priority access to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The decision makes AstraZeneca’s vaccine the third shot available in the country after those of Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. Its recommended use for those aged below 65 echoes similar advice from experts in Italy, Austria and Germany which said the vaccine should not be given to the elderly, citing a lack of sufficient data to recommend use in older age groups.

“There is still insufficient data for those aged 65+. We hope to have them in the coming weeks,” the head of the HAS, Dominique Le Guludec, told reporters.

The EMA said last week there were not yet enough results for people over the age of 55 to determine how well the vaccine worked in that group but it said it could still be given to older people.

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