Germany on Thursday, authorised the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for those over 65 years old as sufficient data had surfaced proving its effectiveness.
Chancellor Angela Merkel however said the interval between the first and second shots would be extended to the maximum of 12 weeks.
“The German vaccine commission, whose recommendations we are happy to follow, will authorize AstraZeneca for older age groups,’’ she said during a meeting with regional health authorities.
Previously the vaccine was recommended only to people under 65 years of age due to insufficient data on its effects on older people.
However, Merkel told the reporters after the meeting that recent studies had now provided enough evidence to approve it for all ages.
“The pause between the first and second shot should be used effectively, which means that the second dose should be administered at the very end of this period.
“For Pfizer/BioNTech it is 42 days, for AstraZeneca, 12 weeks. This way we can vaccinate the most number of people.’’
The German government was severely criticised for its previous stance on AstraZeneca, which fuelled negative public perception of the vaccine.
It resulted in mass rejections of vaccination with the vaccine, leaving the country with thousands of unopened doses.