Germany to use AstraZeneca vaccine from Friday

Germany will resume vaccinations with AstraZeneca's Covid-19 jabs from Friday, Health Minister Jens Spahn said, after the European regulator EMA assessed it was "safe and effective" to use.

Germany to use AstraZeneca vaccine from Friday
Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) spoke at a press conference on AstraZeneca on Thursday evening. Photo: DPA

“The common aim of the federal government and all 16 states is for vaccinations with AstraZeneca to start again already tomorrow,” said Spahn.

The health minister took pains to justify the decision to suspend use of the vaccine on Monday for the EMA to examine a handful of cases of cerebral vein thrombosis that emerged.

On Thursday the German Health Ministry announced that 13 thrombosis cases had resulted following the vaccine, 12 of them involving women.

READ ALSO: Number of thrombosis cases following AstraZeneca jab rises to 13 in Germany

“The course of events this week shows that citizens can trust that they will be informed transparently and they can trust that careful checks will be carried out,” added Spahn.

Doctors would have to inform patients about the possible blood clotting risk before giving them the jabs, he said.

Each state, however, will approach how it administers the vaccine differently.

In Baden-Württemberg, appointments will initially continue to be offered to people over 80 as well as to those over 65 from particularly vulnerable occupational groups.

In North Rhine-Westphalia, Astrazeneca will make vaccinations available to professional groups such as teachers at primary and special schools.

In Saarland, the jabs are to be continued in a pilot project of general practitioners as well as in hospitals.

In Hamburg, the Astrazeneca remedy is to be administered to people with special diseases in specialised practices. 

Critics had complained that the decision to halt use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine over the last few days only served to fuel mistrust over the jabs and further delay Germany’s already stuttering inoculation campaign.

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Germany’s third virus wave ‘appears to have broken’, says Health Minister

Germany seems to have halted a surge of coronavirus infections driven by the British variant, Health Minister Jens Spahn said Friday, cautioning however against lifting restrictions precipitously.

Germany's third virus wave 'appears to have broken', says Health Minister
Spahn speaking at a press conference on Friday May 7th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Michael Kappeler

“The third wave appears to have broken,” Spahn told a press conference in Berlin.

READ ALSO: IN DETAIL: These are Germany’s planned freedoms for Covid-vaccinated people

“The infection figures are dropping again, but we are still at a high level. They are not yet falling everywhere at the same rate, but they are falling,” he said.

Germany’s Robert Koch Institute health agency recorded 18,485 new infections in the past 24 hours on Friday — compared with 27,543 on the same day two weeks ago.

The number of new infections per 100,000 people over the past seven days stood at 125.7.

Under national virus measures introduced in April, areas with incidence rates below 100 are allowed to begin easing some restrictions.

But Spahn warned that easing curbs too much too soon “would only help the virus”.

“In this phase of the pandemic, it is really a matter of not gambling away what has been achieved,” he said.

The so-called emergency brake rules prescribe strict curbs in areas with rates above 100, including sweeping shutdowns, contact restrictions and overnight curfews.

But the Bundesrat upper house of parliament on Friday approved new legislation to lift some curbs for fully vaccinated people and those who have recovered from Covid-19.

Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht called the move “a very important step towards more normality”.

‘Urgent need’

From Sunday, they would no longer have to abide by curfews or limits on social contacts.

Berlin’s mayor Michael Müller admitted that it was going to be “damn difficult to check” the curbs are lifted only to those who fall under these categories.

But he argued that “this is about fundamental rights, and they can only be restricted when there is an urgent need to do so”.

After a slow start, Germany began accelerating its vaccination campaign in April and last week gave the jab to more than one million people in one day.

Some 31.5 percent of the population have received at least one injection by Friday.

Spahn said Thursday that Germany will aim to offer Covid-19 vaccines to all children aged 12 and over by the end of August once a jab is approved for younger people by the European regulator.

It has also opened up the AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone who wants it.

The AstraZeneca jab had previously been recommended only for people aged 60 and older following concerns over blood clotting cases among younger recipients of the vaccine.

READ ALSO: Germany gives green light to offer AstraZeneca to all adults