19 – What is known about the side effects of corona vaccines


Whether drugs or vaccines: side effects are part of it – not for all, but for some. Whether such side effects occur and if so, which and how serious they are, is recorded in Germany by the Paul Ehrlich Institute. An overview.

Anyone who observes possible reactions in connection with a Covid 19 vaccination should report them in any case. For the first time in Germany there is also an app for this.

The vaccines from Biontech / Pfizer and Moderna

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) regularly publishes safety reports on the corona vaccines that have been approved to date. Accordingly, there are no safety concerns about the funds from Biontech / Pfizer and Moderna so far. In the test reports it is said that known side effects – in the case of vaccines one speaks of vaccination reactions – occurred. No statistical abnormalities were found. The regulatory authority emphasizes that the benefits of the vaccines are far greater than the risks.

Different vaccination reactions possible

The more common reactions include symptoms such as pain at the injection site, headache or nausea; fever can also occur. The following applies to these vaccine reactions: They only last a short time and subside on their own. An allergic shock occurs very rarely. This occurs immediately after the vaccination and can be life-threatening, but can be overcome with rapid medical help. Therefore, to be on the safe side, you have to remain under observation for a while after the vaccination, usually 30 minutes.

Astrazeneca’s vaccine

Immunizations with the third vaccine approved so far in Germany – the Astrazeneca drug – were temporarily suspended in March after reports of deaths from blood clots, and then restricted at the end of March.

In mid-March, both the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the Standing Vaccination Commission in Germany recommended the continued use of Astrazeneca’s agent after an examination. According to a statement from the STIKO, the benefits of the vaccination outweigh the currently known risks.

The EMA also described the Astrazeneca vaccine as “safe and effective” at the time. EMA director Cooke said there is currently no link between the vaccinations and an increased risk of blood clots. But that cannot be ruled out yet. Therefore there will be further investigations. Cooke emphasized that so far there have been a few individual cases.

The federally owned Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI) is the central collection point for information about vaccine side effects in the corona pandemic and publishes a report on it at regular intervals. According to the information, there are now 31 known cases of sinus vein thrombosis after vaccination with Astrazeneca. In 19 cases, thrombocytopenia was also reported. In nine cases, the outcome was fatal. With the exception of two cases, according to the institute, all reports concerned women between the ages of 20 and 63. The two men were 36 and 57 years old.

Astrazeneca only for people over 60

Because of the increased number of cases, individual cities and clinics initially suspended vaccination with Astrazeneca for people under 60 years of age at the end of March. On March 30th The federal and state health ministers decided that Astrazeneca’s corona vaccine should only be used without restriction in people over 60.

For people under 60 years of age, vaccination with Astrazeneca for priority groups one and two could also be continued after careful medical advice, it said. This should only happen in general practices. This concerns high-risk patients for whom there is an increased risk of a severe course of Covid-19 disease.

In addition, Astrazeneca’s product can be used in people between 60 and 70 years of age, although they are usually only in the third vaccination group. This should increase the vaccination rate.

Researchers from Greifswald find the cause of thrombosis

Researchers at the University Medical Center Greifswald have now found out how brain thrombosis can develop after an Astrazeneca vaccination. Defensive substances formed by the immune system in response to the vaccination apparently activated the blood platelets in those affected, which in turn led to blood clots. Because the mechanism was so clearly identified, a targeted treatment option could also be developed. Patients can be given an active ingredient that helps against the thrombosis. The Society for Thrombosis and Haematostasis Research has already published corresponding recommendations.

Paul Ehrlich Institute collects reports

According to the Paul Ehrlich Institute, a total of 19,194 suspected side effects or complications after Covid vaccinations had been registered by mid-March, out of a total of 8,863,270 vaccinations carried out by then.

The reporting rate for all vaccinations with COVID-19 vaccines was 2.2 cases per 1,000 vaccine doses, for serious cases it was 0.3 per 1,000 vaccine doses. With Astrazeneca, the reporting rate is slightly higher than with the other vaccines (5.2 cases per 1,000 doses and, for serious cases, 0.5 per 1,000). But that could also have to do with the media coverage of the vaccine, it said.

What should you do if you have complaints?

Anyone who has been vaccinated and suspects that side effects may be related to the vaccination should report this to their family doctor. General practitioners and health authorities pass on information about unusual physical reactions to the Paul Ehrlich Institute. It is also possible to register directly with the institute online. In addition, a network portal enables the federal government to report vaccination complications. The Paul Ehrlich Institute forwards all information to the EMA.

“SafeVac” app asks

For the first time in Germany, people who have been vaccinated will also be actively asked about their health. The “SafeVac” app was developed for this purpose. If you want to support the study and use the app, you have to answer questions about your health, for example. In this way, data on the frequency, severity and duration of adverse reactions are collated. The app not only collects data on complications, but also documents vaccinations that did not cause any problems and the vaccinated people tolerated the vaccine very well.

Because the app actively inquires, the researchers hope to get a statistically better picture of how often side effects actually occur. Seven times after the first dose and eight times after the second, the program asks in the first few weeks after the vaccinations whether the user has any symptoms. And then again after six and twelve months.

Klaus Cichutek, the PEI President, told Deutschlandfunk that the app had been well received, even though most of the people who were vaccinated were older than 80 at the beginning of the campaign. Almost 50,000 people feed data into “SafeVac”. The oldest participant is over 100 years old. “The size of all participants is around 2 percent of the vaccinated people, which is a very good figure.”

(Stand: 30.03.2021)

Further articles on the coronavirus

We have created a news blog. In view of the large amount of information, this provides an overview of the most important current developments.

+ Covid-19: Current figures on the coronavirus in Germany (as of March 30)
+ Holidays: What will happen to the Easter holiday? (As of March 23)

Test and protection

+ Protection: The vaccination ordinance: who will be vaccinated first, who will be vaccinated later? (As of March 4th)
+ Vaccination appointment: how can I get vaccinated when and where? (As of March 4th)
+ Vaccines: When children could also be vaccinated (as of March 26)
+ Vaccinations: What is known about the side effects of vaccines (as of March 19)
+ Sick people: New findings in the search for drugs (as of March 8th)
Treatment: How does an antibody drug work and when does it make sense? (As of February 26th)

Contagion and Transmission

+ Virus variants: how dangerous are the new mutations of the coronavirus? (Status: 13.03.)
+ Opponents of infection protection measures: What AfD and lateral thinkers have to do with the spread of the coronavirus in Germany (as of 02/09)
+ Transfer: What role aerosols play (as of January 22)
+ Excess mortality: how deadly is the coronavirus really? (Status: 13.03.)
+ Travel warning: The current list of risk areas (as of March 27)

You can also find the Dlf news on Twitter at: @DLFNews.

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