31 Mar 2021: Germany halts AstraZeneca vaccine use for under-60s over clot fears
Germany will allow general use of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine only for people aged above 60 years, imposing restrictions on younger people taking the jab after several severe cases of blood clots were reported, the German government said on Tuesday.
This comes as another setback for the global roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company.
Details: Those below 60 may choose to take the vaccine
Those aged below 60 years can still choose to take the vaccine but only after "consultation with the doctor carrying out the vaccination," keeping in mind "individual risk analysis," said the Ministers of Germany's 16 states as well as the federal Health Minister in a policy statement.
Before Germany, several countries have restricted the AstraZeneca vaccine's use over clotting fears.
Statement: 'There are findings that we cannot ignore'
German Chancellor Angela Merkel noted that experts have recently witnessed "very rare but very serious cases of thrombosis" in people who received the AstraZeneca jab.
"There are findings that (Germany's vaccine commission) and finally us, cannot ignore," Merkel was quoted as saying.
Germany's vaccine commission had earlier on Tuesday recommended that use of the jabs should be halted for under-60s.
Plans: Vaccine commission to make another recommendation by April
Further, the country's vaccine commission intends to make another recommendation by the end of April on how to proceed with under-60s who have already received the first dose of the vaccine.
Ministers, meanwhile, said that people who are due to take their second dose can either decide to take it if cleared by their attending doctor or they can wait for the commission's recommendation.
Situation: AstraZeneca vaccine's use restricted in several countries
Germany's medicines regulator - the Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI) - has thus far reported 31 cases of blood clots in people who received the AstraZeneca vaccine, Der Spiegel magazine reported on Tuesday.
On Monday, Canada had also recommended stopping the use of this vaccine for under-55-year-olds.
Other countries like France and Spain have also restricted its use.