Spain and Italy have limited the use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to people over the age of 60, which could further slow down the slow immunization program of the European Union, which lags behind countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Israel. The two countries made the decision on Wednesday after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said it had found a possible link between AZN from pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, AZN -1.63%, the vaccine + 2.61 % and very rare cases of blood clotting problems in adults. The EMA did not recommend age restrictions, as it emphasized that the benefits of the injection outweigh the risks.
Read: EU and UK regulators say AstraZeneca vaccine is safe, but Britons under 30 will be offered an alternative vaccine Italian health ministry recommended the vaccine only be used in people over 60 years, but said that those under 60 who have already received their first dose of AstraZeneca can also take a second. Last month, French and German health officials restricted the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine to those over 55 and over 60, respectively, due to concerns about unusual blood clotting in some recipients. Earlier on Wednesday, the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) changed its guidance on the vaccine, recommending that people under 30 be offered alternative vaccines, such as the one jointly developed by biotech BioNTech BNTX -3.27% and the pharmaceutical company Pfizer. PFE, -0.39%, or Moderna‘s biotech mRNA, -1.54% one, due to an “increasingly rare” side effect of blood clots in the brain. Read: US Government to Study Allergic Reactions to COVID-19 Vaccines AstraZeneca shares rose 2.04% in London morning trading on Thursday. The stock is down less than 1% so far this year, according to FactSet data. The decision by Spain and Italy to restrict the use of the vaccine could make it difficult for the EU to meet its goal of vaccinating 70% of its adult population by the end of the summer. The 27-member bloc no longer achieved its first milestone of having at least 80% of people over the age of 80 and 80% of healthcare workers vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of March, according to the most recent data. of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control. The pace of vaccinations could pick up later this month when pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson JNJ, + 0.13% begins delivering its single-shot COVID-19 vaccine to the EU. The block has signed a firm order for 200 million doses of J&J and an option for 200 million more. Read: Oxford halts AstraZeneca COVID vaccine trial in children and adolescents for blood clotting problems AstraZeneca on Wednesday acknowledged findings from the EMA and the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, noting that both reviews “reaffirmed that the vaccine offers a high level of protection against all severities of COVID-19 and that these benefits continue to far outweigh the risks. “The Swedish-British pharmaceutical company said it was working with global regulators to better understand individual cases, the epidemiology and the possible mechanisms that could explain these extremely rare events. Separately on Wednesday, the World Health Organization’s advisory committee on vaccine safety said that while a link between a blood clot was “plausible,” “no was confirmed “and that cases were” very rare “among the 200 million people vaccinated with As traZeneca around the world.