The World Health Organisation has granted what has been described as emergency authorisation to AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine for all age groups as found on the WHO official website.
“The vaccine was reviewed on 8 February by WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE). The SAGE recommended the vaccine for all age groups 18 and above,” a statement on WHO website said.
The UN agency’s approval of the vaccine for all age groups is in contradiction to French President Emmanuel Macron warning about the vaccine’s efficacy for elderly people.
President Macron reportedly told journalists at the end of January that the AstraZeneca vaccine was “quasi-ineffective for people over 65”.
Meanwhile, WHO said, “Immune responses induced by the vaccine in older persons are well documented and similar to those in other age groups. This suggests it is likely that the vaccine will be found to be efficacious in older persons.”
Macron also slammed UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to delay administering the second dose of the vaccine in order to speed up the vaccine rollout, while adding that the interval between doses of 12 weeks would increase the chances of the virus developing resistance to the vaccine.
He said: “Scientists tell you that we accelerate mutations when you only give one injection because people are less well covered and therefore the virus adapts. We lie to people when we say ‘you are vaccinated’. You have a first dose of a vaccine that is made up of two.”
WHO also commended the British strategy, saying it was the best one to pursue and recommended that other countries follow suit.
“In light of the observation that two-dose efficacy and immunogenicity increase with a longer interdose interval, WHO recommends an interval of 8 to 12 weeks between the doses,” WHO said.
The AstraZeneca vaccine getting WHO approval means millions of doses will be distributed around the world by the UN agency’s partners through its Covax programme as the UN agency is looking to provide doses for at least 20 per cent of countries’ populations through the scheme.
What is Covax?
Covax is part of a coordinated global action plan to make sure of more equitable access to vaccines for poor countries.