BERLIN - Germany will soon authorize the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine against Covid-19 for people over the age of 65, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday.
"The (German) vaccine commission, whose recommendations we are happy to follow, will authorize AstraZeneca for older age groups," she told reporters after talks with regional leaders about the next steps in fighting the pandemic.
Germany had previously said it lacked sufficient data to greenlight the jab for those over 65, but Merkel said that thinking had changed thanks to recent encouraging studies.
The German government had been criticized in recent weeks for muddled communications about the AstraZeneca jab, leading to a public perception that the vaccine was less effective than those developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.
Some of the Germans first in line for a Covid-19 jab have spurned the AstraZeneca offer, leaving the country with hundreds of thousands of unopened doses.
Greenlighting the jab for the oldest age groups is expected to help Germany work through the backlog and pick up the pace of its sluggish vaccine rollout.
Merkel on Wednesday said the government had agreed to space out the first and second jabs of the AstraZeneca shot by a maximum of 12 weeks, to quickly give more people initial protection against the virus.
German politicians have also in recent days urged the government to relax its vaccination priority list to open up the AstraZeneca jab to more people.
France, which had also limited the AstraZeneca jab to younger age groups, said earlier this week that it too would allow the vaccine to be given to over-65s.
© Agence France-Presse