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As of today, only Germans over the age of 60 will be vaccinated with AstraZeneca

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The use of AstraZeneca vaccines against a new type of coronavirus disease in Germany will be restricted to people over 60, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced in Berlin on Tuesday. The new rule will be introduced on Wednesday on the recommendation of the so-called Standing Vaccination Committee (STIKO). The committee issued a new recommendation because, according to the latest scientific knowledge, the vaccine could cause blood clots in the brain in people under the age of 60.

This side effect is very rare but very serious

Angela Merkel said. The change caused uncertainty, but there was no other choice. Data on possible side effects cannot be hidden, swept under the rug, and the greatest possible confidence in the vaccine can only be created through openness and transparency, the German chancellor emphasized.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks at a meeting of the German lower house of the Bundestag in Berlin on 25 March 2021.
MTI / EPA / Clemens Review

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Health Minister Jens Spahn added that the change could help vaccinate those over 60 more quickly, which is particularly important in the face of the third wave of epidemics that is just rising. He underlined that the vaccine, developed in collaboration with the University of Oxford and the British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, is extremely effective in the elderly. The Minister said:

In Germany, a temporal relationship between AstraZeneca vaccine use and cerebral blood clots has been demonstrated in 31 cases.

Vascular damage was fatal in nine cases. Of the 31 affected, 29 are women between the ages of 20 and 63. Similar cases have occurred abroad, and Germany is not the only one where the use of the vaccine is restricted, Jens Spahn added, citing Canada as an example.

AstraZeneca vaccines in Kaposvár, in the warehouse of the Public Health Department of the Somogy County Government Office on March 30, 2021.
MTI / György Varga

Norwegian health authorities said last week that the suspension of AstraZeneca’s vaccine was extended by three weeks to better investigate thrombotic cases. According to Geir Bukholm, director of the Norwegian National Institute of Public Health, although AstraZeneca is a good vaccine for vulnerable groups, it is important to clarify the risk of developing thromboembolic symptoms.

In Norway, six cases of thromboembolism have been reported so far, four of which have died and several were under 50 years of age.

However, there is currently no evidence that thromboembolic symptoms are caused by the vaccine. A group of doctors at Oslo University Hospital reported that the vaccine-induced immune response caused thrombosis in three healthcare workers transported to the hospital.

However, no cases of cerebral thrombosis have been identified in the most extensive Welsh study of coronavirus vaccines to date.

A study in Wales involving 440,000 vaccinees, according to a report by Swansea University on Tuesday, found that there were no cases of cerebral sinus thrombosis in subjects vaccinated with either the AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine or the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine. The UK Medicines Agency has previously emphasized that 11 million doses of AstraZeneca were given in the UK between the start of the vaccination campaign on 8 December and mid-March, and that there were no more reports of blood clots than there were naturally occurring cases in vaccinated populations. would have occurred in the same period anyway.

Pharmacist Rajan Shah draws the AstraZeneca vaccine into a syringe at the vaccination center set up at St. John’s Church in Ealing, London, on 16 March 2021.
MTI/AP/Kirsty Wigglesworth

Most European countries have resumed using AstraZeneca after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced two weeks ago that the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and effective, and its benefits outweigh the risks of possible side effects. However, the EMA did not definitively rule out a rare association between the vaccine and blood clotting disorders and recommended further investigation.



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