The health authorities of the city-state of Berlin have announced this Tuesday the interruption of the administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine to those under 60 years of age. Dilek Kalayci, head of Health for the German capital, has announced the decision after learning that two Berlin hospitals will pause the administration of the AstraZeneca preparation for women under 55 years after reports of some cases of very rare but serious blood clots.
The head of the Berlin administration has declared that the precautionary measure of the capital is taken before a meeting of the federal health commission with health authorities of the German federal states, and awaiting new recommendations.RELATED
One of the large hospitals in Berlin, Charité, had announced on Tuesday that “although there have been no complications (…) after vaccinations with Astrazeneca, (…) it wants to act as a precaution and wait for the final evaluations.” Similar has been the announcement of the Vivantes group of clinics, where they have been vaccinated with the serum of the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company “several thousand” of its workers, according to local media.
As reported by the local newspaper Tagesspiegel, some 19,000 people are employed in Charité, while the Vivantes clinics – which also manage residences for the elderly – employ some 17,000. In Charité, says the media, two thirds of the staff have been vaccinated, 70% of them with the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The decision of the Berlin authorities comes after the Paul-Ehrlich Institute, a reference center for vaccination in Germany, announced that it has detected 31 cases of a rare blood clot in the cerebral veins (sinus vein thrombosis) that they received the AstraZeneca vaccine, nine of whom died. With the exception of two cases, all concerned women between the ages of 20 and 63. About 2.7 million people have been vaccinated with AstraZeneca in Germany.
Two weeks ago, European countries such as Germany, France, Italy or Spain suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for a few days after detecting thrombi in some people who had received it.
On March 18, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) concluded its preliminary review of cases of blood clots, including very rare cases of clots with unusual characteristics such as a low number of platelets (components that help clotting), in people. vaccinated with AstraZeneca.
The EMA safety committee confirmed that the vaccine is not associated with an increase in the overall risk of blood clots. The agency reiterated that the vaccine’s benefits in combating the virus’s still widespread threat continue to outweigh the risk of side effects.
The EMA said that in younger patients “some concerns persist, particularly related to these rare cases.” Almost all the reported cases corresponded to women under 55 years of age, the agency explained, “although part of this may reflect a greater exposure of these people due to the fact that vaccination campaigns are directed at particular populations in different Member States,” the report added. agency. A causal link to the vaccine was not proven, but the agency said it deserves a more detailed analysis.
Following these conclusions, the French High Health Authority (HAS) recommended that, while doubts about the risk of thrombosis from AstraZeneca for people under 55 years are cleared up, this vaccine be reserved only for those over that age.
For their part, this Monday, Canadian health authorities recommended suspending the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 for people under 55 years of age. Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) adopted that measure as a “precaution” after about 500,000 doses have been administered in the country.
The Canadian Ministry of Health said that so far there have been no cases of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia (a decrease in the number of platelets in the blood) in the country, although it has received information from other cases apart from those recorded in Europe.
Given this information, Canada will ask the vaccine manufacturers to “carry out a detailed assessment of the benefits and risks of the vaccine by age and sex in the Canadian context.” The health authorities indicated that the data provided by the pharmaceutical companies “will determine if additional regulatory actions are necessary.”