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Italy stops AstraZeneca vaccine for under 60s

A nurse prepares a dose of AstraZeneca coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine in Fasano Italy, April 13, 2021. REUTERS / Alessandro Garofalo / File Photo

The Italian government said Friday that it restricted the use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to people over the age of 60 after a teenager who received the shot died of a rare form of blood clots.

Camilla Canepa died on Thursday at the age of 18, after receiving the vaccine on May 25, triggering a media and political uprising over the Anglo-Swedish company’s shot, which was used on adults of all ages despite previous medical concerns.

“AstraZeneca will only be used for people over the age of 60,” the country’s special COVID commissioner Francesco Figliuolo told reporters.

People under the age of 60 who have received a first dose of AstraZeneca should be given a second vaccine for the second dose, the government’s chief medical adviser Franco Locatelli said at the same press conference.

“The risk-benefit rating has changed,” Locatelli said, noting Canepa’s death from a low platelet count, cerebral haemorrhage and blood clots in his stomach.

AstraZeneca was not immediately available for comment.

Like many European countries, Italy briefly stopped AstraZeneca vaccinations in March over concerns about rare problems with blood clots, primarily in young people. Read more

It resumed them the following month with the recommendation that the product should “preferably” be used on people over the age of 60, after the European Drug Regulator said the benefits of jab outweigh the risks.

Several other European countries have also stopped giving the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to people under a certain age, usually from 50 to 65. read more

However, when Mario Draghi’s government tried to increase its vaccination drive, some Italian regions launched “open days” in which the AstraZeneca shot was administered to people of all ages from 18 years and up.

These included young women, who are the group considered most prone to the extremely rare blood clots.

The inoculation events, which were often held in the evenings and on weekends, were partly aimed at preventing AstraZeneca doses from being wasted amid widespread reports of elderly people spurring the product and canceling their vaccination appointments.

About 46% of the population in Italy have received at least one vaccine dose, while 23% are fully inoculated, which is roughly equivalent to most other EU countries.

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