• Germany edition
 
Government to get special swine flu vaccine
What is in there? Photo: DPA

Government to get special swine flu vaccine

Published: 18 Oct 2009 12:00 GMT+02:00
Updated: 18 Oct 2009 12:00 GMT+02:00

The general population will be offered the GlaxoSmithKline vaccine, called Pandemrix, which contains a new booster element, or adjuvant, as well as a preservative containing mercury.

Controversy has grown around the rapid licensing of the GSK vaccine – and a similar one being made by Novartis. Critics said not enough testing had been conducted before European licensing authorities rushed an approval.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, her cabinet members and ministry civil servants as well as those working for other agencies will get Celvapan, produced by US firm Baxter, which does not have the adjuvant or the preservative, according to Der Spiegel.

It is thought the adjuvant may lead to a stronger reaction in the patient – which to a certain degree is the point, meaning the vaccine can contain less of the virus yet still provoke the crucial immune system reaction.

But this is also what some say is the additional risk – and has led to stocks of the traditional kind of vaccine being bought in for pregnant women and young children.

Celvapan does not contain the adjuvant or the preservative. Rather, it contains entire dead viruses rather than the pieces which are in the traditional vaccine. The Baxter version is the one being given to the armed forces, as well as being made available for pregnant women and children.

It seems now that ministers and civil servants are to be included in that category.

“We have bought 200,000 doses of the non-adjuvanted vaccine Celvapan from the company Baxter,” Christoph Hübner, spokesman for the Interior Ministry confirmed to Der Spiegel.

It will be used for "state servants responsible for the maintenance of public order," the magazine reported. Next to members of the cabinet and civil servants, this includes staff of the Paul Ehrlich Institute, which took the decision to order the new vaccine from GSK for the rest of the country. No explicit reason was offered as to why they should get the Baxter vaccine rather than the GSK version.

Chairman of the German Medical Association’s Drug Commission Wolf-Dieter Ludwig said the situation was a scandal. “We are unhappy about this vaccination campaign,” he said. The point of it was unknown, he suggested. “The health authorities have succumbed to a campaign by the pharma companies, which simply want to earn money from a supposed threat.”

Meanwhile some medical associations are advising their members not to administer the new vaccine. President of the German Association of General and Family Medicine, Michael Kochen, has called on German general doctors not to give it to patients. “The risks outweigh the benefits,” he said.

Wolfram Hartmann, president of the Association of Paediatricians, accused the government of making false scientific statements. He said children under the age of three should not be given the shots.

“The vaccine has not been tested on them, thus the risk is simply too great for it to be used,” he said, adding that children’s immune systems tend to overreact, which could be exacerbated by the adjuvants. He also criticised the use of mercury-containing preservatives. “One has deliberately kept this stuff out of vaccines for small children,” he said.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

19:04 October 23, 2009 by leprechaun63
Well that blew another one of your theories katekate, now go back to the drawing board and come up with something intelligent to say.
Today's headlines
Fourth time lucky for free Berlin WiFi?
Coming soon? Photo: DPA

Fourth time lucky for free Berlin WiFi?

Berlin's bid to set up a free city-wide wireless network has so far come to nothing. But city bosses are now trying for a fourth time - and hope to have the project running next year. READ  

Opinion
Do German unions have too much power?
Lufthansa passengers rush to change their flights at Frankfurt Airport on Monday. Photo: DPA

Do German unions have too much power?

Germany's pilots and train drivers are taking it in turns to bring the country to a standstill with strikes that have cost the economy tens of millions of euros in the last two weeks. Are unions abusing their power or standing up for their rights? READ  

Older workers can have extra days off, court says
Photo: Workers in a German shoe factory. Photo: DPA

Older workers can have extra days off, court says

Older workers in Germany are allowed more time off than younger ones, a court ruled on Tuesday, saying the difference was not discriminatory. READ  

Expat's family battles for answers four years on
Matthew Fitzpatrick died in 2010 in Mannheim. Photo: Fitzpatrick family

Expat's family battles for answers four years on

In 2010 an Irish computer engineer was found dead in his apartment in Baden-Württemberg. Four years on, his family are still pressing the German justice system for answers. They feel badly let down by police who they say have refused to examine evidence of foul play. READ  

Court: Germany can keep arms deals secret
The judges of the Supreme Court announce their decision about weapons exports on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Court: Germany can keep arms deals secret

The government can keep arms deals secret and only tell the public about them after contracts have been signed, the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday. READ  

Tourist finds €7,500 instead of cheesecake

Tourist finds €7,500 instead of cheesecake

Just how honest would you have to be to return €7,500 that you found in a box supposed to contain your favourite cheesecake? READ  

Tanker fills up gas station with wrong fuel
Photo: DPA

Tanker fills up gas station with wrong fuel

Around 160 car owners are stuck after a gas station's storage tanks were filled with the wrong fuel, causing an estimated €100,000 in damage. READ  

Lufthansa strike hits 1,500 flights
Photo: DPA

Lufthansa strike hits 1,500 flights

UPDATE: In the second day of their strike, Lufthansa pilots have, as promised, extended their industrial action to include long-haul international flights until the end of Tuesday. READ  

Merkel tells allies to pay Ukraine's gas debts
Chancellor Angela Merkel in Bratislava, Slovakia, on Monday. Photo: DPA

Merkel tells allies to pay Ukraine's gas debts

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday called on Ukraine's allies to help the war-scarred nation pay off its gas debts to Russia, amid concern over gas supplies this winter. READ  

Steinmeier wants epidemic task force
Frank-Walter Steinmeier speaks at the World Health Summit in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Steinmeier wants epidemic task force

At the World Health Summit in Berlin, the Ebola crisis took centre stage at talks meant to create plans for how to handle future outbreaks. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: Mariana Schroeder
Munich
Special Report: Hope and chaos at Munich's refugee shelters
Photo: DPA
Berlin
Robbers blow up Berlin bank
Photo: DPA
Culture
Can you top our history quiz leaderboard?
Photo: Facebook
Society
German motorcycle gang joins Isis fight
Photo: DPA
Politics
UKIP ‘seeks EU pact’ with German satirical party
Photo: DPA
Gallery
PHOTOS: World's biggest erotic fair opens in Berlin
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
11 things Germans are afraid of...
Sponsored Article
International School on the Rhine: a legacy
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The ten richest people in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd