Germany and France set to give Oxford jab to over 65s after condemning it

Leah Sinclair
·2-min read
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Germany and France could approve the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines for over 65s just days after Angela Merkel said she was too old to take the jab.

Thomas Mertens, the head of Germany’s vaccine committee, revealed it would "very soon" update its recommendation on the jab.

He added that it was “possible” the vaccine could also be cleared for seniors.

“We never criticised the vaccine, we just criticised the lack of data for the over-65 age group,” said Mr Mertens.

However, he acknowledged that the distinction may have been unclear to the public, telling German television station ZDF: “The whole thing has somehow gone wrong”.

Alain Fischer, chairman of France’s vaccine strategy orientation council, also said his country would "re-adjust" its vaccine strategy.

He said the change of heart was a result of new data from a study that showed the AstraZeneca jab’s use massively decreased hospital admissions.

It follows after German chancellor Angela Merkel said she would not have the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine because it is not recommended for her age group.

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In an interview with German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung last week, she said: “I am 66 years old and I do not belong to the group recommended for AstraZeneca.”

Her comment was criticised by some who urged her to “lead by example” and take the vaccine, amid a slow uptake of the AstraZeneca jab in the country.

Despite accumulating 1.4 million vaccine doses, only 300,000 AstraZeneca jabs have been administered in Germany.

French President Emmanuel Macron has also expressed his scepticism over the jab.

While he said last week that he would be prepared to accept the vaccine, he originally claimed it was “quasi-ineffective” at protecting the elderly last month.

Despite criticism, the jab has been gaining approval in a number of countries. Last week Canada announced it had approved the jab while India did so in January.

Other countries that have given the vaccine a seal of approval include Mexico, Morocco, Argentina, the Dominican Republic and El Salvador.

In Australia, 300,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were received today - more than doubling the amount of all vaccines shipped to the country so far.

It has also been approved by the World Health Organization.

In the UK, the AstraZeneca jab along with the Pfizer vaccine has helped bring widespread protection to the population against Covid-19.

On Friday more than 500,000 people were immunised, bringing the total to almost 30 per cent of the adult population.

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