SPAIN will extend the gap between the first and second doses of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine to 16 weeks from 12 for those aged under 60-years-old, the health ministry confirmed on Friday.

The extension will affect those under-60s who received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine before the government restricted it to the 60-69 age group.

The delay gives authorities more time to determine how best to handle shifting safety guidelines for the drug, the ministry said.

On February 9, Spain began to give AstraZeneca jabs to essential workers aged 18-65 then suspended the use of the vaccine over concerns about blood clots in younger people.

It resumed use of AstraZeneca within the same group and extending it to those up to the age of 65 once again halting it on April 17 when the Health Ministry decided to only use it for those aged 60-69 where the risk of blood clot was lower.

The switch left many in limbo with those younger people who had already received a first dose, excluded from getting a second.

By extending the interval between doses, authorities can evaluate the results of trials on mixing different vaccines before deciding whether those groups will receive a second AstraZeneca shot or another drug, the ministry said.

Carlos III Health Institute is running trials by giving Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine to patients who already received an AstraZeneca shot in order to determine effects and efficacy.

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