Poland raises upper age limit for AstraZeneca shot, taking in Slovak patients

FILE PHOTO: A test tube labelled "vaccine" in front of an AstraZeneca logo in this illustration taken, September 9, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland will raise the upper age limit for people being given the AstraZeneca vaccine to 69, and will take COVID-19 patients from neighbouring Slovakia, a health ministry spokesman said on Friday.

COVID-19 cases have been surging in central and eastern Europe, but in common with the rest of the European Union the region has faced problems with vaccine deliveries.

“Today the health minister’s vaccination team recommended extending (the age limit)...Within an hour there will be a announcement from the health minister,” spokesman Wojciech Andrusiewicz told a news conference.

The upper age limit for the vaccine produced by Anglo-Swedish firm AstraZeneca had previously been 65. A number of countries have set upper age limits for the AstraZeneca vaccine, citing a lack of research into its effect on older age groups.

Andrusiewicz also said that Poland would take in 10 COVID-19 patients from neighbouring Slovakia, and stood ready to help the Czech Republic if necessary.

“In the next few days we will receive about 10 patients from Slovakia (who are) in a serious condition,” Andrusiewicz said. “Talks with the Czechs are ongoing...We are ready to help both the Czechs and Slovaks.”

Reporting by Alan Charlish and Pawel Florkiewicz Editing by Alison Williams and Mark Heinrich