Interview on corona vaccines: Astra-Zeneca debate is irrational


Professor Mertens, many Germans are not satisfied with when it is their turn to have the corona vaccination.

You could say so. My e-mail inbox is overflowing. For weeks now, I and others who have to do with prioritization have been receiving demands from individuals and groups to place them in a “higher priority level”.

Isn’t that people’s right?

Of course, but the sound makes the music. Let me put it this way: there are factual and demanding arguments, but the claims are sometimes very emotional and often extremely demanding. You can talk about anything. But it annoys me that many people understand solidarity to mean that they or their group get something. © The  second important aspect of solidarity is not taken into account, namely that one renounces something for the benefit of others.

Every man for himself.

That seems to be the case in difficult times like these. But when vaccines are scarce, it’s nonsense to think you can just expand the top priority groups. © The  prioritization is precisely the consequence of the scarcity. So if you are serious about having to be upgraded, you should also say which group you want to downgrade.

The Chairman of the Standing Vaccination Commission (Stiko), Thomas Mertens (archive photo)

© The  Chairman of the Standing Vaccination Commission (Stiko), Thomas Mertens (archive photo)

Photo: Stefan Boness / IPON

If everyone is admitted, will none be admitted?

I agree. It can be assumed that around half of our population can cite a reason for preferential vaccination. Evaluating and weighing this is the difficult task of Stiko and other responsible parties such as the Ethics Council and the Leopoldina. We are concerned with ranking those eligible for vaccination according to their quantitative risks for serious illnesses and, subsequently, for infections.

What are these criteria?

Such a prioritization must meet the ethical claim of protecting the weakest, ensuring the greatest possible avoidance of damage for the individual and the community, and at the same time taking into account a distribution based on solidarity and fairness for the benefit of all.

How do the dissatisfied justify their claims to an upgrade?

© The re is then, for example, the talk of having to show their work or their fate more appreciation or to appreciate their merits. Others cite “perceived truths” about the vaccination process, which, however, have not been scientifically proven. None of this can be a criterion for us, since all people are fundamentally to be rated equally. In our prioritization recommendation, we adhere to the best available data in order to protect those most at risk first.

And then that’s set in stone?

Of course not. If criticism comes, we accept it, evaluate it, and if there is new knowledge, we adjust the recommendations. But we would be badly advised if we abandoned our scientific basis and followed the self-assessment of individual groups.

When is the prioritization over?

Hopefully there will be enough vaccine soon for us to get rid of it. Fortunately, more and more active ingredients are being approved; the next thing we will look at in Stiko is the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

© The re are people, even medical staff, who don’t want to get the Astra-Zeneca injected vaccine. You are a doctor yourself. Do you understand this skepticism?

Never ever. This discussion has gotten out of hand. It is completely irrational not to allow yourself to be protected at all than with the Astra-Zeneca vaccine.

Does someone who refuses the vaccination fly out of their prioritization group?

No, he can get a new appointment. But one thing is clear: at the moment, he cannot choose the vaccine, he gets what is available to him. And in order to use Biontech / Pfizer and Moderna preferentially for the elderly, at the moment this is usually the vaccine from Astra-Zeneca for the younger ones.

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Interview corona vaccines AstraZeneca debate irrational


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