The cases of thrombosis in Germany that occurred after people had been given the AstraZeneca vaccine are “very likely” to have been caused by the jab, Lauterbach told broadcaster ARD.
“You usually see that [type of thrombosis] in the population 50 times in the whole year in Germany,” he said. “The connection also makes physiological sense.”
So far, the Astrazeneca vaccine has been administered more than 1.6 million times in Germany. Seven cases of thrombosis occurred in connection with the vaccination. Three of them were fatal.
As a precautionary measure, the Ministry of Health announced on Monday that Germany was suspending use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for the time being.
Lauterbach said though that the benefits of the vaccine still outweighed the risks.
“Based on the incidents we now know, the benefits of the vaccine of course outweigh the risks, especially for the elderly,” Lauterbach stressed.
Saying that he would not have suspended the vaccinations, Lauterbach argued that one must weigh thrombosis, which “is treatable, albeit difficult to treat, against a disease that is very, very fatal in the elderly.”
Asked earlier about a comparison with possible side effects of taking the contraceptive pill, the SPD politician reacted sceptically. “The thromboses that occur after taking the pill are not comparable in severity to the thromboses we are talking about here”.
His party colleague Katarina Barley had tweeted on Monday that “the latest generation of birth control pills has thrombosis as a side effect in eight to twelve out of 10,000 women. Has that ever bothered anyone?”
Other experts have expressed more caution about a causal link between the vaccine and the blood clots.
Frank Ulrich Montgomery, head of the World Medical Association told the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland that “the fact that people get thromboses and pulmonary embolisms does not necessarily have anything to do with the vaccination.”
He added that international studies show that the frequency of thrombosis is about the same in a placebo group and in a group with the vaccine.
The World Health Organization still recommends the AstraZeneca’s vaccine to prevent severe Covid-19 disease.