Austria changes course again on AstraZeneca vaccine

Austria changes course again on AstraZeneca vaccine
Photo: Fred SCHEIBER / AFP
Austria has decided not to recommend the AstraZeneca vaccine for over 65s, just one week after indicating it would.

NOTE: As at March 5th, the Austrian government reversed its decision and will now recommend the AstraZeneca vaccine for over 65s. Click here for more. 

This is the second time Austria has changed course on the vaccine. 

On February 24th, the head of Austria’s Vaccination Board Ursula Wiedermann-Schmidt said she will ask health minister Rudolph Anschober to approve the AstraZeneca vaccine for seniors. 

Austria’s Health Ministry indicated on Monday there was not enough information to overturn the previous recommendation that the vaccine be available for under 65s, Austria’s Der Standard newspaper reports

“The current recommendation was confirmed” said the Health Ministry on Monday. 

“Based on only very few cases of the disease, no reliable statements about the effectiveness of this vaccine for people over 65 are possible at this point in time,” it said.

The Austrian government did not rule out approving the vaccine in the future, but indicated there was not enough reliable information to do so at present. 

As it stands, only around half of the 156,000 delivered doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have been administered in Austria. 

France this week indicated it would change its earlier decision to recommend the vaccine for over 65s, with a similar decision expected in Germany. 

In total, 11 of the 27 EU member countries declined to recommend the vaccine for over 65s. 

Neighbouring Switzerland has declined to approve the vaccine entirely – and is now considering selling the 5.3 million doses it has already purchased

Less than three percent of the Austrian population have received both doses of coronavirus vaccine, with 5.5 percent receiving at least one. 

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