German health officials decided on Tuesday to limit the use of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine in those under the age of 60 amid new concerns about unusual blood clots among recipients.
Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn and the 16 federal authorities have unanimously agreed to only give the vaccine to people aged 60 and over, unless they belong to a high-risk category for severe Covid-19 diseases and have agreed with your doctor to receive the vaccine. despite the risk of a serious side effect.
The move follows the recommendations of the independent German panel of vaccine experts and comes after the country’s medical regulator released new data showing that 31 unusual blood clots, including nine deaths, were detected. The 31 cases were reported on Monday after around 2.7 million doses of AstraZeneca were administered in Germany.
The meeting, attended by Chancellor Angela Merkel, was convened after the health authorities of the Berlin city-state, as well as the Munich and Brandenburgers surrounding the German capital, announced the suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine to children under 60.
The restrictions come when Germany, like other European countries, has difficulty increasing its vaccination program, which lags far behind that in the UK and the United States. As of Monday, approximately 13.2 million people in the country had received at least one dose of the vaccine while nearly 4 million had received both vaccines.
Use of the AstraZeneca vaccine was temporarily discontinued in several European countries earlier this month due to concerns about rare blood clots. According to a review by experts from the European Medicines Agency (EMA), most European Union (EU) countries, including Germany, resumed use of the vaccine on the 19th of this month.
Also on Monday, Canada suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in people under the age of 55, citing new worrying data from Europe. “Given the potential risks, there is considerable uncertainty about the benefits of making AstraZeneca vaccines available to adults under the age of 55,” said Shelley Deeks, vice president of Canada’s National Immunization Advisory Committee.
Deeks added that the updated recommendations come at a time when new data in Europe suggests the risk of blood clots is now potentially one in 100,000, far higher than the one in a million risk previously assumed.
In Germany, one of the main hospitals in Berlin, the Charité, issued a statement saying that although there were no complications after being vaccinated with Astrazeneca, they are acting as a precaution and want to wait for the final assessments. A similar decision was announced by the Vivantes Clinics group, in which, according to the local press, they were vaccinated “several thousand” of their employees with the serum from the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company.
According to the weekly newspaper Der Spiegel, the Paul Ehrlich Institute, a referral center for vaccinations in Germany, reported 31 cases of thrombosis in people who had received the AstraZeneca vaccine, nine of whom died. There was a lack of platelets in the blood in 19 cases, and the institute pointed out that of the dead, two were men, ages 36 and 57. The institute added that all other cases of sinus vein thrombosis affect women between the ages of 20 and 63.
In Germany, 3,877,914 people received two doses of a vaccine against Covid-19, 4.7% of the population, and 9,001,925 (10.8%), at least one. In the past 24 hours, 123,170 people in Germany received the first dose of the vaccine and another 44,522 the second.