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Spain halts the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for people under the age of 60

The University of Oxford formula. File photograph.
The University of Oxford formula. File photograph. / EFE
  • Until a few weeks ago, the vaccine was limited to people under 56 years of age in Spain. It was later expanded to people aged between 56 and 65 but now, only those over the age of 60 will receive it

Spain's vaccination strategy was turned upside down in a matter of hours this Wednesday, 7 April, following a meeting between the Ministry of Health and the regions.

The outcome of the debate was that Spain has decided to reserve doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine for people aged between 60 and 65.

This is a radical change; until a few weeks ago, the administration of the vaccine - developed by the University of Oxford - was limited to people under 56 years of age. It was later expanded to people aged between 56 and 65.

Now, after a new investigation into dozens of cases of blood clots among those vaccinated with the British vaccine, Spain’s Interterritorial Council has agreed that only those over 60 will receive this vaccine.

It is not yet known what will happen to those under 60 who have already received the first dose of AstraZeneca, although the usual protocol is to keep the second dose scheduled if no side effects have been detected after the first.

The Ministry of Health still believes the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh the risks, especially in the elderly, the most vulnerable to coronavirus.

The debate came after the European Union reaffirmed its support for AstraZeneca but recognised blood clots as "very rare" side effects.

Despite the fact that several European countries, including Spain, have documented up to 228 episodes of thrombi (169 brain and 59 abdominal), the European Medicines Agency conclusion remains the same: the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh any possible risk and urged governments to continue its use.

The EMA's ruling came just hours after the United Kingdom advised against its use among people under thirty years of age. Trials of the Oxford vaccine on children in the UK have also been suspended on a precautionary basis.

On Wednesday Spain’s Castilla y León region stopped all vaccinations with the AstraZeneca formula as a "precaution" before knowing the conclusions of the EMA.