EU regulators approve AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

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Jan. 29 (UPI) — European Union regulators on Friday gave approval to AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine for emergency use in all adults, despite a lack of data for those 65 and older.

The European Medicines Agency, the EU’s chief drug regulator, gave the authorization.

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AstraZeneca now must receive conditional marketing authorization from the European Union to begin distribution. If authorized, it would become the third vaccine available in the bloc, after vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna.

The EMA said clinical trials of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was developed with Britain’s Oxford University, showed a 60% reduction in the number of symptomatic coronavirus cases in volunteers.

“With this third positive opinion, we have further expanded the arsenal of vaccines available to EU and [European Economic Area] member states to combat the pandemic and protect their citizens,” EMA Executive Director Emer Cooke said in a statement.

The AstraZeneca drug is administered in two doses, like those from Pfizer and Moderna, within four to 12 weeks.

“Today’s recommendation underscores the value of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which is not only effective and well-tolerated but also easy to administer and, importantly, protects fully against severe disease and hospitalizations,” AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said in a statement.

German officials on Thursday recommended AstraZeneca’s vaccine, but only for adults under 65. The United States is waiting for more data before deciding whether to approve the vaccine.