Finland restricts AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to under-70s

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HELSINKI, Feb. 3 (Xinhua) — Finland’s health authorities have decided to restrict the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine to people aged below 70, Hanna Nohynek, chief physician at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), said at a press conference here on Wednesday.

Asked why Finland chose 70 as the age limit and not 65 as some other European Union (EU) member countries, Nohynek said the choice was based on the country’s experience. “Above the age of 70, the risk of a fatal form of COVID-19 increases,” she said.

People older than 70 in Finland will be administered the Pfizer-BioNTech product. The AstraZeneca vaccine will be used for immunizing first the risk groups aged below 70 and healthcare professionals, then the other age groups, Nohynek said.

She underlined that “the two vaccines are almost equally efficient against the serious form of COVID-19.”

Finland is also extending the gap between the first and second vaccine dose to 12 weeks. This will speed up the vaccination of senior citizens, according to the authorities.

The THL noted that the vaccination schedule depends on the availability of vaccines. Finland aims to vaccinate between 2.5 million and 3.5 million residents by the beginning of this summer, Nohynek said. Vaccination is free of charge and voluntary in Finland.

As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in some countries with the already-authorized coronavirus vaccines.

Meanwhile, 237 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide — 63 of them in clinical trials — in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain and the United States, according to information released by the World Health Organization on Jan. 29. Enditem

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