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May 10, 2021

New guidelines issued: Govt restricts use of AstraZeneca vaccine for under 40 yrs

KARACHI: Reviewing the national guidelines for the use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine AZD1222 within 24 hours, the federal health authorities on Sunday said use of coronavirus (Covid-19) Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine among less than 40 years be restricted irrespective of gender (till availability of further data).

“(On the recommendations of an expert committee), we have updated the interim guidelines (for the use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine AZD1222) today. There are two key changes: Use among less than 40 years be restricted irrespective of gender (till availability of further data). 2. Interval between doses fixed 12 weeks instead of range of 8-12 weeks mentioned in earlier version,” Director General Health Pakistan Dr Rana Muhammad Safdar told The News on Sunday.

Pakistan received the first consignment of around 1.238 million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca’s AZD1222 vaccine through a commercial flight on the night between Friday and Saturday in Islamabad.

He maintained that both above changes will lead to operational ease and added that guidelines remain interim as new data from around the world keeps pouring.

Dr Rana Muhammad Safdar said international guidelines regarding the use of vaccines were rapidly changing on the basis of new data and research, so if they felt any need, guidelines for AstraZeneca’s use would be reviewed again.

“All decisions are evidence-based to optimally ensure that the safety and efficacy of all vaccines authorized for use in Pakistan. Additionally, an efficient system is in place for adverse event surveillance in accordance with the global guidelines. It is heartening that all events reported so far are of minor nature and fully recovered,” Dr Rana Muhammad Safdar added. Responding to a query regarding rapidly changing recommendations on the use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, he said: “We have alternate vaccines, so have taken blanket decision. All under 40 will get other available shots,” he added. Earlier, Special Assistant to Prime Minister SAPM on Health Dr. Faisal Sultan had told The News that some restrictions on use (of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine) in younger women may be put in place, as an interim, when asked if the people in Pakistan would be offered alternative to AstraZeneca’s vaccine due to its safety issues.