Two of the largest cities in Germany suspended the administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine in those under 60 on Tuesday as concern grew after increased reports of blood clotting in those who received it.
Authorities in Berlin and Munich put a halt to the inoculations after new reports surfaced of unusual blood clots in people who had recently received the shots, according to officials.
The action was taken as a precaution, just before a scheduled meeting later on Tuesday in which representatives from German states will c offer on the wisdom of continuing the Astra Zeneca rollout. Further recommendations are expected from national medical regulators at that time, according to a statement from Berlin’s top health official, Dilek Kalayci.
Decision comes after weeks of reports of blood clots, deaths
The decision comes after weeks of reports from all over the EU and after the country’s medical regulator announced that it had received a total of 31 reports of rare blood clots in recent recipients of the AstraZeneca product.
Nine of these individuals died — and all but two of the cases involved women aged 20 to 63, according to Germany’s Paul Ehrlich Institute.
Reports of an unusual form of blood clot in the head, known as sinus vein thrombosis, prompted several European countries to temporarily halt the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine earlier this month. After a review by medical experts, the European Medicines Agency concluded the benefits of the vaccine outweighed the risks, however.
Still, out of an abundance of caution, the agency recommended that warnings about possible rare side effects should be provided to patients who receive the Astra Zeneca shot as well as doctors. Most European Union countries, including Germany, resumed use of the vaccine, which was created by a team from Oxford University and the Anglo-Swedish Astra Zeneca firm.
Earlier Tuesday, two state-owned hospitals in Berlin announced that they had stopped administering the AstraZeneca vaccine to female staff members under 55. The heads of five university hospitals in western Germany then called for a temporary halt to the vaccine for all younger women, citing the blood clot risk.
Berlin’s state health minister Dilek Kalayci said the suspension of AstraZeneca vaccines for younger people was undertaken as a precautionary measure.
“Precautionary measure” to stop using AstraZeneca vaccine
She stated on Tuesday “We have not had a case of serious side effects in Berlin yet,” adding that all of those who had received the AstraZeneca shot already could rest assured that it does provide good protection against the coronavirus.
“Still, we need to treat it carefully and wait for the talks taking place at the federal level,” she added.
The decision could affect appointments for tens of thousands of teachers and people suffering from preexisting conditions who recently received invitations to receive inoculations in Germany’s capital.
The German news agency dpa quoted a spokesman for Munich, the country’s third-largest city, saying that the suspension of AstraZeneca vaccinations for people younger than 60 would continue “until the issue of possible vaccine complications for this group of persons has been resolved.”
A total of 2.7 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have been administered across the whole of Germany so far.
60-year-old Greek man suffers thrombosis after AstraZeneca vaccination
A Greek man had to be airlifted from the Greek island of Syros after he suffered thrombosis after receiving the AstraZeneca shot at the island’s vaccination center on Friday night.
Taken to an Athens hospital, the man collapsed abut a half an hour after he received the vaccine.
George Melanitis, a relative of the 60-year-old Syros, spoke to interviewers on the show Koinonia Ora MEGA.
He related how it happened, telling them “There was a scheduled appointment at IKA in Syros. My relative went and got the vaccine. I want to note that we are all positive about the vaccine,” he added.
“When he returned home after half an hour, he collapsed. He fell into a coma. He was taken to the hospital of Syros, and taken to Athens, to Thriasio, by helicopter.
“Our complaint is why this was not done immediately, as it took 12 hours for him to be transported,” he stated.
“He had a stroke at 11:30 in the morning and was transported to Thriasio at 11-12 in the evening”, said Melanitis.
“We think that if a vaccine has a problem, we first take a history and then say that this person cannot do it,” he protested.
“Fifteen years ago my brother-in-law had an operation. He has been taking anticoagulants all these years. Eight or nine years ago he had a mild stroke without even being hospitalized. If all this is a predisposition for what happened at that moment to happen, we accept it,” Melanitis stated.
“But when someone who has not had a problem in the last years of his life, it happens one hour after the vaccine, our mind connects them, without knowing if this connection of the vaccine with what he suffered is valid”, he added.
60-year-old now in stable condition in Athens
Commenting on the case, Athanasios Skoutelis, an infectious disease specialist and member of the National Vaccination Committee, said “Thromboembolic disease is common in the general population.
“There is no instruction that people taking it should take any special measures regarding the vaccine, or not. It does not mean that anything that coincides in time with the vaccination is related to the vaccination.”
The condition of the 60-year-old is currently improved, while it is noted that the man had a history of ischemic attacks and was taking pills. Thrombolytic treatment is being performed at his hospital currently.
“His condition is stable at the moment. Doctors are wary, but he has started communicating, moving his left leg. It is difficult for someone to know what will happen in a few days. We are waiting,” Melanitis noted.
Healthy 63-year-old Greek man collapses after Astra Zeneca vaccination
A 63-year-old professor from Greece collapsed and laid unconscious for a full two minutes after he received the vaccine in February.
A 63-year-old university professor collapsed within the first 24 hours after receiving the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Athens, Greek Reporter learned exclusively, as concerns over the side effects of the vaccine grow throughout Europe.
The 63-year-old man, who spoke exclusively to Greek Reporter, collapsed on February 18, a day after he received the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“I suddenly fainted as I was talking to a colleague in the office,” he tells Greek Reporter.
“I was standing up and fell to the floor like a sack of potatoes. I was told I remained unconscious for about two minutes.”
The professor says that he sustained an injuries to his face and head from the fall — but things could have been worse if the incident had happened a few minutes before — when he had been driving his car. After the man regained consciousness, he received first aid from colleagues and an ambulance was called.
He was taken to Thriasio Hospital where a series of tests were carried out. However, the results showed that there was nothing wrong with his general health and no indication of what had caused the collapse.
“It was the first time in my life that something like that happened to me,” the professor says, adding that he suffers from no underlying health issues whatsoever.
Skeptical about receiving second dose of AstraZeneca vaccine
“I had no second thoughts about receiving the vaccine. I was among the first in my age-group to vaccinate. I really believed that the vaccine will restore the normalcy to our everyday lives,” he tells Greek Reporter.
He says that after his hospital discharge he called the vaccination center in Athens and informed doctors about the incident. He was reassured that the collapse was not related to the vaccine.
“I was still worried and I followed the advice of my doctor to start another round of check-ups, including a electrocardiograph, myocardial perfusion imaging, triplex vascular and thyroid ultrasound and a stress test. I was also issued with a Holter monitor to measure my heart’s activity. Again, the results showed no issues with my health.
“I am not certain that the collapse was the result of the AstraZeneca vaccine. But nobody has reassured me that it is not. Doctors’ opinions diverge,” he says.
The professor says he is uncertain whether he will receive the second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“If the situation does not clear up, I will think twice about receiving the second dose. I will try to get the vaccine of another company,” he added.
French PM receives AstraZeneca vaccine to lessen growing unease
French Prime Minister Jean Castex received the AstraZeneca shot several weeks ago to try to promote public acceptance of it after the concerns were first raised this Spring. However, the country’s recommendation for giving the shot only to those 55 and older reflects ongoing questions about its overall safety.
France’s drug regulator already acknowledged the problem, stating “The EMA has identified a possible increased risk of (thrombosis) in people under 55 years old.”
Some other European countries remain hesitant about giving the AstraZeneca shot to older people. In Madrid, those who are 60 to 65 began receiving the vaccine today — ahead of those between the ages of 66 and 79 — because Spanish authorities have not yet reviewed the new data provided by AstraZeneca about its efficacy in the older age group.
Spain is now using the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for all those over 80 years of age.
Spanish health authorities have said that they are hoping to speed up the rollout of vaccines with the arrival of the shot developed by the pharmaceutical company Janssen, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.
This game-changing vaccine, which does not require ultra cold freezing storage temperatures, has also been recently approved for use in Europe and requires one shot only. This will greatly enhance the speed of the vaccine rollout all over Europe — as soon as enough doses are available to start making a difference.