Italy will stop giving AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine to people under the age of 60, the Italian government said on Friday, amid a drop in the level of infections in the country that meant the risks of distributing the younger vaccines were found to outweigh the benefits.
The AstraZeneca vaccine came under scrutiny after a handful of reports of rare and serious blood clots in those who had received the vaccine appeared in Europe.
Young Italians who have already received a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine will receive a different injection for their booster dose, Francesco Paolo Figliuolo, an army general in charge of the vaccination effort in Italy, told a conference of hurry. He added that the change would have minimal impact on the roll-out of vaccination in the country.
The announcement was the latest in a series of reversed decisions regarding the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was developed with the University of Oxford. Some doctors fear the back and forth will further undermine confidence in the vaccine and hamper the vaccination campaign in Italy.
Government regulators and AstraZeneca “communicated very, very poorly,” said Roberto Burioni, one of Italy’s leading virologists, in an interview. “We are losing the trust of even the most enthusiastic people. “
In Italy, as in other European countries, the deployment of the AstraZeneca vaccine has been difficult. After the European Union approved its use in January, Italy recommended its use only for people under the age of 55.
The country then raised the threshold to 65 on February 22, then lowered the age limit on March 8. A week later, Italy became one of many European countries to completely suspend use of the vaccine over concerns over reports of rare and serious cases. blood clots which have afflicted a small number of recipients.
Italy resumed use of the vaccine on March 19, but about two weeks later, after the European medicines regulator reported a possible link to the rare blood clots, the government recommended reserving the vaccine for people over 60 years old.
However, some Italian regions, in a hurry to vaccinate as many people as possible, have started offering AstraZeneca vaccines to younger people at “open house” and “open house” events that ignored the government’s priority schedule. Tens of thousands of young Italians have registered. In May, the council of government science advisers shed new light on “open” initiatives.
But some doctors raised objections and word spread of an 18-year-old girl who had received a dose in the northern Liguria region, was hospitalized with thrombosis and then died. The government said on Friday that the recommendation to give the AstraZeneca vaccine only to people over 60 had now become “mandatory”.
Franco Locatelli, president of the Italian Superior Health Council, said changes to the guidelines had always depended on the development of available scientific evidence but also depended on the level of circulation of the virus.
Dr Locatelli argued that ‘vaccines have saved many lives’ and that AstraZeneca’s vaccine, widely used in Britain, has produced results ‘we were jealous of’.
Mr Burioni, the virologist, said he was moved by the enthusiasm of young people who rushed to get vaccinated during open days to protect older Italians. “But now a lot of these young people and a lot of their parents are very worried,” he noted.