The UK’s vaccine advisory body said that the Covid-19 vaccine produced by AstraZeneca PLC should preferably not be given to people under the age of 30 because, in very rare cases, it causes potentially fatal blood clots.
Wednesday’s decision to restrict the vaccine to younger people is a setback to the UK’s flagship vaccination drive and makes the country increasingly dependent on Covid-19 shots developed and produced in other countries.
It is also another blow to the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, which have raised questions about its efficacy and potential side effects even when tens of millions of doses have been administered following safety signaling in more than 70 countries around the world .
The vaccine, which, unlike others, does not need to be stored at super-cold temperatures, is considered crucial for the introduction of vaccines in poorer countries, many of which have relatively young populations.
The speed of the UK’s rapid vaccine program should not be affected by the decision as long as vaccine stocks are maintained, British officials said. “It’s a course correction, if you will, on the UK program,” said Jonathan Van-Tam, UK deputy chief of medical services.