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Coronavirus: High risk groups should not be given AstraZeneca expert says

File Photo: Vials And Medical Syringe Are Seen In Front Of Astrazeneca Logo In This Illustration

People at risk of serious illness if infected with the coronavirus should not be vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine because of its lower efficacy, according to a pharmacology expert.

Assistant professor of pharmacology at the University of Cyprus Nicolas Dietis said the AstraZeneca vaccine was very safe, but it showed a lower efficacy compared with the Pfizer Biontech and Moderna vaccines.

Germany and Sweden have already said it will not give the AstraZeneca vaccine to those over 65, while Poland has said they will only give to those in 18-60 age group.

Dietis said the health ministry should plan ahead and avoid vaccinating people with AstraZeneca who could fall very ill if they are infected by the coronavirus.

“It would be good if the particular vaccine had a higher efficacy, but it is over 50 per cent, which is the threshold set by the European Medicines Agency and it has secured approval,” he said.

Dietis said the ministry should at least name the vulnerable groups as recipients of the more effective vaccines for starters.

Just because there is a shortage of vaccines at the moment “we should not vaccinate an 80-year-old with the AstraZeneca just because we do not have any Pfizer doses,” he said.

The AstraZeneca, or Oxford vaccine, covers six in 10 people, he added.

“We must not raise the risk for the elderly ourselves.”

To prevent cases of serious illness even with the vaccine, “I think such planning is necessary.”

Dietis also suggested that Cyprus would not follow Hungary’s example and order the Russian vaccine, Sputnik V unless it is desperate.

To use the Russian vaccine, it must be approved by EMA first and the European Commission, he said.

For that to happen, the manufacturer must apply for approval.

“This application has not been filed yet.”



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