Pharma giant AstraZeneca has defended the efficacy of its Covid-19 vaccine after media reports said the German government had doubts about its effectiveness among those over 65.
The Handelsblatt economic daily reported Monday that Berlin had estimated the efficacy of the jab among over-65s was just eight percent, citing sources.
Bild also said that Berlin did not expect the vaccine -- developed with Oxford University and set to get the green light from the EU this week -- would receive a licence for use in the elderly, presenting a significant challenge to rollout plans in many countries.
But the company rejected the claims as erroneous.
"Reports that the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine efficacy is as low as eight percent in adults over 65 years are completely incorrect," the firm said in a statement late Monday.
"In November, we published data in The Lancet demonstrating that older adults showed strong immune responses to the vaccine, with 100 percent of older adults generating spike-specific antibodies after the second dose," it added.
Asked about the reports on Tuesday, German Health Minister Jens Spahn told public broadcaster ZDF that Berlin would wait to see the complete data from studies of the AstraZeneca vaccine before drawing any conclusions.
On that basis, decisions could be taken next week about "which age groups will be inoculated first with this vaccine".
The European Union issued an angry warning to AstraZeneca Monday over its unexpected delay in delivering millions of doses of its Covid-19 vaccine to the bloc.
Last Friday, the pharma giant said it would not meet its contractual delivery commitments to the European Union because of unexplained "reduced yields" in its European supply chain.
The European Union has currently authorised two vaccines for widespread distribution, manufactured by BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna.
It was set to add the AstraZeneca vaccine to that list this week, on the understanding that it would be already on hand and available for immediate rollout.
Berlin, Germany | AFP