Denmark announced on Wednesday that it had stopped using the vaccine against AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 due to “rare but serious” side effects, while Germany decided to add another vaccine to those who took this drug in the first dose to administer the second dose.
“The vaccination campaign in Denmark will continue without the vaccine [da] AstraZeneca, ”said the director of the National Health Service, Søren Brostrøm, in a press conference this Wednesday.
The Scandinavian country is the first in Europe to give up the vaccine from pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, but Germany has also decided to restrict its use.
As the German Health Minister Jens Spahn presented on Wednesday, the 2.2 million Germans under 60 years of age who received the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine will be immunized in the second dose with the BioNTech / Pfizer or Moderna formula.
The minister and the health officials in the 16 federal states made this decision unanimously after several weeks of controversy in Europe. The decision follows a recommendation of the Standing Vaccination Commission (Stiko), which was issued at the beginning of April.
The President of the Conference of Health Managers, Klaus Holetschek, assured in a press conference that each of the two formulas based on modified RNA represents “a good basis” for effective protection of the population. The decision aims to end the controversy over cases of thrombosis, which has been found mainly in young and healthy people who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Following the temporary suspension of the vaccine in Germany – and in most of the European Union countries, including Portugal – this vaccine was re-administered to people over the age of 60 on the recommendation of the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Individuals under the age of 60 who received the first dose of this vaccine prior to suspension remained pending, including many teachers and health professionals.
The decision to change the vaccine in the second dose is not without a doubt, not least because the World Health Organization (WHO) has not recommended it due to a lack of data on its possible risks. The measure will have an impact on the German vaccination campaign, which started very slowly and with logistical problems and is expected to accelerate in April.
The European Commission said this Wednesday that it is “keeping all options open” for the next phases of the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, with a view to the 2022 vaccination campaign, which is adapted to the new variants. “We are keeping all options open to prepare for the next stages of the pandemic in 2022 and beyond,” the community executive’s official source said.
The EU vaccination campaign was marked by long delays in AstraZeneca’s vaccine delivery and the side effects of its medicine, as the link to very rare cases of blood clots was confirmed.
This situation is exacerbated by delays in the arrival of the Janssen vaccine in the EU after U.S. health officials recommended a break in drug administration on Tuesday to investigate reports of blood clots. Four vaccines are currently approved in the EU: Pfizer / BioNTech, Moderna, Vaxzevria (new name for AstraZeneca vaccine) and Janssen.