Germany halts use of AstraZeneca vaccine for elderly amid reports of rare disorder

WION Web Team
New Delhi, IndiaUpdated: Mar 31, 2021, 02:53 PM IST

A file photo of AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine Photograph:(Reuters)

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People above 60 who have received one shot may get their second shot or wait until further recommendations come in by the end of April

Germany is set to limit the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine among people aged 60 and above following reports of a rare brain blood disorder. In addition, the country will limit usage among high-priority groups.

"We have to be able trust the vaccines," Chancellor Angela Merkel said during a press conference on Tuesday.  "And transparency is the best way to deal with such a situation," she added.

Merkel acted on the advice of STIKO, country’s vaccine committee. After deliberation, the federal and state governments decided against using the vaccine.

People above 60 who have received one shot may get their second shot or wait until further recommendations come in by the end of April.

Earlier, STIKO suggested the jab be used only for people aged 60 and above "on the basis of available data on the occurrence of rare but very severe thromboembolic side-effects". In addition, STIKO is considering using a different shot for the second jab.

AstraZeneca responded to the claims saying that safety was its highest priority, while adding that European and UK medical agencies had failed to establish a causal relationship between the vaccine and blood clots.

AstraZeneca on March 22 announced that its COVID-19 vaccine is 80 per cent effective against the virus among the elderly, and poses no blood clot risks. The numbers came in after phase III trials in the US, as European countries shun AstraZeneca vaccines for fears of blood clots.

Among the overall population, the vaccine was 79 per cent effective at preventing symptomatic coronavirus. In terms of preventing severe disease and hospitalisation, the vaccine showed 100 per cent efficacy.

The US phase III trials of the vaccines developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University had 32,449 participants, out of whom two thirds received the jab, the company’s statement said. Out of these 20 per cent were aged 65 and above, while 60 per cent had health conditions that pose a high risk of severe case of COVID-19.

Confidence in the safety of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine has taken a hit in European countries. After reports of rare blood clots made the news, people’s confidence in the vaccine dipped especially in Spain, Germany, France, and Italy, poll data shows.

YouGov conducted the poll which found that even by late February, Europeans were wary of the AstraZeneca jab, as opposed to vaccines made by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. Reports of blood clots from vaccines had severely damaged the public perception surrounding the vaccine.