AstraZeneca in France: under 55s should receive another vaccine in 2nd dose

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Paris | Those under 55 who have received a first dose of AstraZeneca against COVID-19 should have their second with another vaccine, French Health Minister Olivier Véran said on Friday before an official announcement expected today.

“It will be confirmed normally today, it is completely logical”, declared Mr. Véran, stressing however that the official announcement fell to the High Authority of Health (HAS), which will hold a press conference at 10 am (8 GMT).

The HAS had suspended this vaccine for those under 55 years of age on March 19, due to rare cases of thrombosis spotted in Europe.

But previously, “nearly 600,000 French”, including caregivers, had received a first dose of this vaccine injected since early February.

“I am part of this population,” recalled Mr. Véran, 41, who had been vaccinated on February 8 in his capacity as a neurologist by training.

“It is completely consistent to say + We do not recommend the AstraZeneca vaccine to under 55s while waiting to learn more (…) and therefore if you have received a first injection and you are under 55 years, you will be offered another vaccine at 12 weeks after the first injection, you will receive an injection of a messenger RNA vaccine, ”Mr. Véran developed.

The messenger RNA technique is used by two other vaccines authorized in Europe, those from Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna. AstraZeneca’s uses a different technology, called “viral vector”.

“We know that a single dose of vaccine is not sufficient to ensure long-term immunity against Covid-19. Therefore, a decision had to be made on the vaccine to be administered for the second dose. It was therefore decided to use an RNA vaccine ”, for his part explained on Franceinfo Jean-Daniel Lelièvre, head of the infectious diseases department at the Henri-Mondor hospital in Créteil (Paris region) and member of the HAS.

Since its authorization, AstraZeneca’s journey has been chaotic, with several twists and turns that have damaged the confidence of the general public.

On February 2, just after its authorization, it was first reserved for people under 65 in France, for lack of data on its effectiveness in the elderly. A month later, its use is extended to all ages.

Then, in mid-March, the vaccine was suspended a few days after reports in Europe of very rare and very atypical thromboses (blood clots). The European Medicines Agency (EMA) acknowledged on Wednesday that they were well linked to AstraZeneca.

In the meantime, France had decided on March 19 to inject it only to people over 55 years old, because these thromboses have mainly been observed in younger subjects.

Other countries have also set age limits, but without necessarily choosing the same. AstraZeneca is for example reserved for people over 30 in the UK, 60 in Germany or 65 in Sweden.