Blood clots ‘very likely’ linked to AstraZeneca vaccine, says German health expert

Karl Lauterbach, the health spokesperson for the Social Democrats and an experienced epidemiologist, said on Tuesday that the evidence pointed towards a link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and a small number of thrombosis cases.

Blood clots ‘very likely’ linked to AstraZeneca vaccine, says German health expert
Karl Lauterbach. Photo: Kay Nietfeld/DPA

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. 

READ MORE: What you need to know about Germany’s suspension of the AstraZeneca jab

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.

Member comments

  1. This reporting is very contradictory. To say 50x what you’d expect to see in Germany is not what is being reported elsewhere.

  2. Agreed. Also, saying that three of seven cases of thrombosis were fatal (42.9%) – a fatality rate comparable to Ebola – but that it was “treatable” compared with COVID19 is numerically absurd, since COVID19 is not nearly that lethal even in the elderly population. Personally I would still risk it. A few cases in millions is extremely unfortunate but not really a bigger risk than we take when we step out the front door on any given day.

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‘This can be a good summer’: Half of Germans vaccinated at least once against Covid

One in two Germans have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, health authorities said Friday, before warning against complacency as the Delta variant is expected to become the dominant strain.

'This can be a good summer': Half of Germans vaccinated at least once against Covid
Jens Spahn. Photo: DPA/Carsten Koall

Some 50.1 percent of the total German population, or 41.66 million people, have now been vaccinated at least once against the coronavirus, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) said on Friday.

At the same time 29.6 percent of the population now has full protection – that’s just under 25 million people.

“This can be a good summer,” said Health Minister Jens Spahn on Friday, before saying that the country needed to remain vigilant due to the spread of the Delta variant.

RKI President Lothar Wieler meanwhile warned that the numbers also showed that millions of people were still completely unprotected or only partially protected.

In order to largely dispense with the pandemic measures, the German government wants to hit 80 percent immunity – either through complete vaccination or an infection plus vaccination. 

The Delta variant, first identified in India, doubled to just over 6 percent of all new infections in Germany during the week ending June 6th in comparison with the previous seven days.

“By the autumn, it will be the dominant strain,” said Wieler.

It was “biologically logical” for the strain to become dominant simply because it was more infectious, he said.

Germany has eased most restrictions, reopening restaurants, shops, pools and museums in recent weeks as new infections dip sharply.

On Friday, it recorded 1,076 new cases, while the number of new cases over a seven day period continued to drop to 10 per 100,000 people.

Wieler said however that it was necessary to keep wearing masks indoors, such as on public transport or at offices.

“We have achieved really good results but the virus is still active and please let us give this virus no chance,” he urged.