EMA denies official suggested ditching AstraZeneca jab
The European Medicines Agency on Tuesday denied that a top official had suggested dropping the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine, saying that he had been misinterpreted in an interview and believed its benefits outweighed its risks.
Marco Cavaleri, the EMA’s head of vaccine strategy, was quoted by Italian newspaper La Stampa on Sunday as saying it could be worth dropping AstraZeneca including for the over-60s in favour of rivals like Pfizer and Moderna.
AstraZeneca has been dogged by reports of rare blood clots, as has its fellow “viral vector” vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson, which have led a number of countries to restrict its use to older people or drop it altogether.
Pfizer and Moderna use Messenger RNA technology instead.
An EMA spokeswoman told AFP in an emailed statement that “Dr Cavaleri’s position was particularly misrepresented”.
“In response to the specific question on the use of Vaxzevria above the age of 60, Marco Cavaleri never stated that such use should be discontinued,” the EMA spokeswoman said, using the brand name for AstraZeneca’s vaccine.
“On the contrary, it is clear that the benefit-risk profile in individuals over the age of 60 is even more positive and Vaxzevria should continue to be used,” she added.
“The position, clearly expressed by Dr Cavaleri during the interview, is that the Vaxzevria benefit-risk profile remains positive and that the decision on its use in different populations and ages is the prerogative of the EU Member States, based on specific factors such as virus circulation and vaccine availability.”
La Stampa later appended a clarification to the interview.
The newspaper had quoted him as saying, when asked if it would not be better to ban AstraZeneca including for the over 60s: “Yes, and it is an option that many countries, such as France and Germany, are considering in the light of the increased availability of mRNA vaccines.”
Italy on Saturday restricted AstraZeneca to people aged 60 and over following concerns about the heightened health risks for younger people.