Status: 03/30/2021 5:55 p.m.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine is “safe and effective,” the EU Medicines Agency recently said. But now there should be new restrictions. An overview of the problems with the vaccine.
From Anja Martini,
Why should AstraZeneca be restricted again?
The Paul Ehrlich Institute now reports 31 cases of so-called hind vein thrombosis – these are blood clots in the brain. In 19 cases, thrombocytopenia was also reported. This means that the number of thrombocytes, i.e. blood platelets, was too low in those affected.
With the exception of two cases, women between the ages of 20 and 63 were affected, the two men were therefore 36 and 57 years old. Nine people have now died in Germany as a result.
Anja Martini, science editor NDR, on the suspension of AstraZeneca vaccinations for people under 60
tagesschau24 2 p.m., March 30, 2021
What kind of thrombosis is it?
Sinus vein thrombosis is blood clots in veins in the brain that drain blood from the brain. Symptoms can be headache, but also epileptic seizures, paralysis or speech disorders.
According to the Paul Ehrlich Institute, the blood clots in the cerebral veins occurred together with thrombocytopenia, i.e. a lack of blood platelets. Platelets are responsible for blood clotting. A lack of platelets leads to an increased tendency to bleed. Symptoms include punctiform bleeding into the skin or mucous membranes, and severe nosebleeds are also possible.
Is there any connection with the vaccination?
After the cerebral vein thrombosis became known, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) concluded that the vaccine was safe and effective. A connection between the drug and the serious illnesses can neither be confirmed nor ruled out.
What causes the thrombosis?
Scientists from the University Medical Center Greifswald have tried to answer this question. When examining blood samples, they apparently found the cause of the bleeding disorders after a few vaccinations with the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“We found the same thing in all patients with the complication that we have been able to examine so far,” explained Andreas Greinacher, head of transfusion medicine at the University Medical Center Greifswald. Apparently the vaccine activated a defense reaction of the blood platelets in the test subjects. This led to the formation of blood clots in the brain. This usually happens, for example, when vessels are damaged.
Whether the reaction to the vaccine itself or the vector – i.e. the packaging of the active ingredient – declines, or whether it is a general inflammatory reaction, has yet to be investigated. This research hypothesis needs further research and assessment.
How broad is the data available?
The Greifswald researchers collaborated with the Paul Ehrlich Institute for their research. This provided them with blood samples from people who had developed serious thromboses after being vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine. Since this complication is very rare, the sample is very small. The blood of four people affected had been examined intensively, according to the researchers.
What does this mean for the vaccination strategy?
The Standing Vaccination Commission (Stiko) wants to advise again on vaccinations with the AstraZeneca active ingredient. According to media reports, a draft resolution by Stiko says that Corona vaccinations with AstraZeneca should only be recommended for women and men over 60 in Germany. Vaccinations with the British-Swedish manufacturer’s vaccine for under 60-year-olds should, however, “remain possible at the discretion of the doctor and with individual risk acceptance after careful explanation”.
And what about second vaccinations with AstraZeneca?
It is not yet certain whether a second vaccination with another active ingredient is possible after a first vaccination with AstraZeneca. According to the Paul Ehrlich Institute, it is currently not possible to be vaccinated with another vaccine – that does not correspond to the current approval requirements.
In fact, this is exactly what is being investigated in several studies. However, the results are not yet available. According to media reports, Stiko wants to comment on what should happen to younger people with the second vaccine dose in Germany after the AstraZeneca stop by the end of April. Until then, the corresponding vaccine studies should be evaluated.