Germany to suspend AstraZeneca vaccine for people under 60

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Germany is preparing to suspend the use of AstraZeneca’s anti-COVID 19 vaccine for those under the age of 60 in the wake of a new recommendation made Tuesday by the vaccine commission after several cases of blood clots.

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The STIKO commission “has decided to recommend the AstraZeneca vaccine now only to over 60s,” she said in a statement.

This opinion is based on “the data currently available showing the rare but very serious appearance of thrombosis as a side effect” affecting “mainly people under the age of 60 between 4 and 16 days after vaccination”, specifies it.

A meeting dedicated to this vaccine and its use in the country began in the evening in Berlin with Chancellor Angela Merkel, Minister of Health Jens Spahn and the heads of the regions.

The commission, whose opinions are generally followed by political powers, promised to define at the end of April the procedure to follow for those under 60 years of age who have already received a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine and should normally have received a second.

Several cities, such as Berlin or Munich, and regions, such as Brandenburg and North Rhine-Westphalia, have already announced during the day to suspend “as a precaution” its use.

This COVID vaccine is the subject of suspicion in several countries after severe cases of blood clots.

Monday, a community, the canton of Euskirchen (west) had already stopped the vaccination of women under 55 years with the product of the Anglo-Swedish laboratory after the report of cases of thrombosis in two vaccinated women.

In the greater North Rhine-Westphalia region, officials from five of the six university hospitals have also called for a temporary halt to vaccination of young women with Astrazeneca, due to the risks, according to a joint letter to the Ministry of Health and quoted by German media.

The Paul-Ehrlich Medical Institute, which advises the government on vaccines, is examining 31 reports of blood clots in people who received the AstraZeneca vaccine in Germany, Spiegel magazine reported on Tuesday.

Almost all cases involve young or middle-aged women.

Several countries have suspended vaccinations with this serum for young people, including Sweden, Finland, Iceland, and France. On Monday, Canada also announced a similar measure for those under 55, pending further analysis.

Following the recommendations of the European health authority EMA, Germany resumed the use of this vaccine in mid-March for all age groups.

The country, which has injected at least one dose of the vaccine to around 11% of its population, needs to step up its campaign to protect against the coronavirus as a third epidemic wave hits the country.