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Germany to limit use of AstraZeneca in people under the age of 60; Anxiety and uncertainty continue…

BERLIN: The German Department of Health has decided to limit the use of AstraZeneca in people under the age of 60. The decision was taken in response to the issues posed by blood clot cases. The move follows recommendations from a panel of independent German vaccine experts.

Health Minister Jens Spahn and state officials agreed unanimously that the AstraZeneca vaccine should only be given to people who are at high risk of serious illness from COVID-19 and are 60 or older. It should only be given if they agree to take the vaccine despite the risk of serious side effects.

The recommendation by the country’s medical regulator comes in the wake of unusual reports of blood clots in the head (sinus vein thrombosis) in AstraZeneca recipients.

Several areas, including the capital Berlin and the country’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, stopped using the vaccine on Tuesday. The decision to discontinue the use of AstraZeneca came after the number of cases of blood clots rose to 31 by March 29 among those who received the vaccine.

So far, about 2.7 million AstraZeneca doses have been administered in Germany. The Paul Ehrlich Institute reported that all but two of the nine deaths from blood clots were women between the ages of 20 and 63.

AstraZeneca vaccine was also suspended earlier this month in several European countries due to concerns about blood clots. The vaccine administration was resumed on March 19.

The European Medicines Agency reports that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks. Although no direct link has been confirmed, EMA has not ruled out the possibility of blood clots. It was therefore recommended that a warning about rare side effects be included in the leaflet with the vaccine.

Canada on Monday stopped using the AstraZeneca vaccine in people under the age of 55, citing new data from Europe. A comprehensive review and study has not yet been conducted to provide a definitive explanation for why AstraZeneca causes blood clots in some people.

A setback for the global vaccination program

The news is a setback for the AstraZeneca vaccine, Europe’s vaccination campaign, and the global strategy for providing vaccines to vulnerable countries. The German decision comes two weeks after the EMA’s assessment that vaccine use did not lead to an overall increase in blood clotting cases.

Company’s statement

At the same time, AstraZeneca said in a statement that vaccines have already been given to millions of people around the world. The company said the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks, as assessed by the European Union regulator and the World Health Organization.

The company said it would discuss the matter with Germany. As of Monday, 13.2 million people had been vaccinated with a single dose. Two shots have been given to four million people.

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