Germany Probes Astra Vaccine After Berlin Partly Halts Use
A healthcare worker holds a vial of the AstraZeneca Plc Covid-19 vaccine at the Lux Med oncology hospital in Warszawa, Poland. (Photographer: Lukasz Sokol/Bloomberg)

Germany Probes Astra Vaccine After Berlin Partly Halts Use

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Germany is reassessing AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 vaccine after the capital Berlin suspended its use for people under the age of 60, citing new data on potentially dangerous side effects.

Dilek Kalayci, the city’s top health official, said that both Germany’s independent STIKO vaccine commission -- which is supported by the RKI public-health institute -- and the Federal Institute for Vaccines will make new recommendations on how to proceed. Those could be published as soon as Tuesday.

It’s a fresh blow for Astra’s vaccine, and another threat to Europe’s inoculation campaign. Germany and a number of other European countries temporarily suspended the Astra jab earlier this month before resuming use after the European Union’s drug regulator said it was safe.

Germany Probes Astra Vaccine After Berlin Partly Halts Use

Regional German health ministers will also discuss the Astra vaccine with federal government officials at a special meeting later on Tuesday. RKI spokeswoman Susanne Glasmacher confirmed that the vaccine commission is assessing the latest information on the Astra vaccine.

“We have to wait for the recommendations but we wanted to take this step as a precaution,” Kalayci said at a news conference, adding that pending appointments will be canceled. “This vaccine does prevent severe symptoms, and that is very valuable, but we have to be careful with it nonetheless.”

In the review earlier this month, the European Medicines Agency concluded that the benefits of the Astra shot outweigh the risks, following a safety review after reports of blood clots in some recipients. While the EMA said the cases so far are “rare,” it recommended that a warning is added to make sure the public is better informed.

Germany’s latest move comes after health officials in Canada suspended plans to give the Astra vaccine to younger people over the blood-clotting concerns. Several provinces halted shots this week after the nation’s vaccine advisory committee recommended a pause on administering it to people under 55 years old.

Norway has extended a pause on injections, while France and other countries have imposed age restrictions.

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