Norway to recommend AstraZeneca vaccine for under-65s only 

Norway to recommend AstraZeneca vaccine for under-65s only 
Photo: AFP
Norway’s health authority says it will recommend the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine against Covid-19 be given to people under the age of 65 who are not at risk of serious illness due to the virus.

As such, people over 65 or in high-risk groups will not receive the AstraZeneca vaccine anytime soon. This means that pensioners will likely have to wait longer to be vaccinated.

The Norwegian Institute for Public Health (NIPH) confirmed the decision at a press briefing on Thursday morning.

AstraZeneca, also known as the Oxford vaccine, was approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for use in the EU and Norway on January 29th.

But due to little research into its effect on those over 65, Norway is not vaccinating this age group in the first instance.

“It’s not because the vaccine doesn’t work on those who are older, but because its documented effect is so limited for this age group,” NIPH director Camilla Stoltenberg said at the briefing.

This means that some people over 65 will have to wait longer to receive the vaccine than anticipated. 

The most optimistic outcome according to NIPH is that all Norwegians over 18 will be vaccinated by September, provided that a further three vaccines get approved by then.

Vaccines from CureVax, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax are next in line for approval.

“If they (Curevex, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax) are approved and deliver enough doses between April and September to vaccinate 3.5 to 4 million people, we will hopefully be able to offer the vaccine to everyone over 18 by the end of July,” Stoltenberg told broadcaster NRK.

Health authorities in Germany, France and Sweden have also recommended the jab only be used on under-65s.

In Norway, as well as neighbouring Denmark, exemptions will also be made for under-65s with underlying health conditions and at risk of developing severe cases of Covid-19. They will continue to receive the vaccines made by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.

According to data collected from AstraZeneca’s phase 3 trials, only two out of 660 people in the trial over 65 got sick with Covid-19, but these numbers are not enough for a strong statistical analysis, according to German vaccine advisory group STIKO.

Initially, AstraZeneca only enrolled younger people in its trial, with older people only enrolled later, which is why the data on this age group is still minimal. 

The AstraZeneca vaccine was approved by the EMA with a documented effectiveness of around 60 percent.

Although there were cases of coronavirus amongst vaccinated participants in clinical trials of the vaccine, there were no serious illnesses or hospitalisations amongst those persons.

AstraZeneca is scheduled to deliver 200,000 doses of its vaccine to Norway in February.

READ ALSO: How and why is Norway easing coronavirus restrictions?


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