The Swedish Health Authority, Folkhälsomyndigheten, recommended eliminating the upper age limit for use of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine. This would allow it to be used on people over age 65.
“New data from the UK confirms that AstraZeneca's vaccine has a good protective effect even for people over 65 years of age,” the Health Authority said in a statement Thursday.
The decision follows reversals made by Belgium and Germany, who have also changed their advice on administering the AstraZeneca vaccine in the elderly.
Many European countries have set an upper limit on the age of recipients of the vaccine, citing a lack of clinical study information about its effects on older people.
In February the Swedish Health Authority approved the vaccine only for use in people under age 65, saying at the time of authorization there was “too little data on the vaccine's protective effect for people over 65 years of age.
“Waiting for more data was considered necessary, as the need for protection of the elderly is particularly high due to their increased risk of serious illness and death by Covid-19,” the statement said.
Swedish State Epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said that “all vaccines offered are very effective and according to the studies have a good protective effect for anyone over 18 years.”
Three vaccines are approved for use in Sweden: Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Oxford/AstraZeneca.
According to the latest data from the Swedish Health Authority, 568,031 people have received at least one vaccine dose (6.9% of the adult population) and 285,178 (3.5%) have been given both doses.