Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals

WHO expert panel recommends wide use of AstraZeneca COVID vaccine

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A logo is pictured outside a building of the World Health Organization (WHO) during an executive board meeting on update on the coronavirus outbreak, in Geneva, Switzerland, February 6, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Feb 10 (Reuters) - The benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca (AZN.L) and Oxford University outweigh any risks and the shot should recommended for use, including in people aged 65 and older, a World Health Organization panel said on Wednesday.

In interim recommendations on the shot, the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation (SAGE) panel said the vaccine should be given in two doses, with an interval of around 8 to 12 weeks between the first and second doses.

SAGE also said that even where questions have been raised about the vaccine's efficacy against a South African variant of the coronavirus, "there is no reason not to recommend its use".

South Africa this week paused its rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine after data from a small trial showed it did not protect against mild to moderate illness from the 501Y.V2 variant of the coronavirus now dominant in the country. read more

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay, John Miller and Kate Kelland

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