Europe’s vaccine plans are unraveling amid a shortage of doses that is raising concerns about the continent’s ability to immunize its most vulnerable populations and reopen its economy in the near term.
In the latest blow for the continent, advisers to the German government warned on Thursday that AstraZeneca PLC’s vaccine shouldn’t be given to people over the age of 64 because of a lack of data about its efficacy in this group.
The European Union’s medicines agency is expected to recommend use of the company’s vaccine on Friday. A recommendation from the European agency not to use the shot in older people would upend national vaccination plans that are tilted toward protecting those most at risk of dying from the disease.
In a sign of the urgency spreading across the continent, German Chancellor Merkel will hold a national vaccination summit with representatives of manufacturers on Feb. 1 in an effort to resolve the shortage of vaccines, her office said late on Thursday.
Europe is already lagging behind the U.K. and the U.S., which have vaccinated 11.3% and 7.1% of their populations respectively, according to data from Oxford University. By comparison, the EU has vaccinated just 2.2 % of its 450 million people.