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Chaos in Germany and Italy after suspension of Oxford vaccine

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Chuyển đổi dữ liệu07.01.2022
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Chaos in Germany and Italy after suspension of Oxford vaccine

There has been chaos and confusion in Germany and Italy after their decisions to suspend use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid vaccine, with vaccination centres closing their doors and appointments being abruptly cancelled.

The countries are two of the biggest on a growing list of European nations that have in recent days ordered a pause in the distribution of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The move came after seven reported cases in Germany of blood clots including deep vein thrombosis in people who had recently received the jab, three of which were fatal. In Italy eight people have died and four more have suffered “serious adverse events”, according to Nicola Magrini, head of the Italian medicines agency Aifa.

Lithuania, Luxemburg, Denmark, Romania, Bulgaria, Norway, Ireland, the Netherlands, France and Sweden are among other countries to have taken similar steps.

Critics in Germany warned that the pause in the rollout of the vaccine could do lasting damage to the country’s already sluggish inoculation campaign.

Vaccination centres across the country were forced to close their doors following the announcement by health minister, Jens Spahn, on Monday, after the federal medical regulatory body, the Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI) recommended a suspension over reported cases of blood clots in recipients.

The move left many people with appointments stranded and some who had just been administered with the jab, reeling with shock. It also intensified a debate about the safety of the Oxford vaccine, which had already been viewed with mistrust after authorities decided weeks ago it could not be given to the over-65s, a move later reversed.

Approximately 1.6 million Germans have been given the AstraZeneca jab, about 17% of the total number of Covid-19 vaccines to have been administered in the country so far. With cases of the virus in Germany on the rise, and the faster spreading B117 (also known as the British or Kent) variant now making up around 60% of cases, there has been pressure to up the speed of the vaccine campaign. So far 3.5% have received a full vaccination.

In the capital Berlin, vaccination centres at the former airports Tegel and Tempelhof closed their doors and those queuing were sent home after doctors were told to stop administering the jab immediately on Monday afternoon. In the states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Hamburg, all appointments for those who should have been receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine had to be cancelled. People expecting to receive second doses have been advised to wait, while anyone who has received the jab has been instructed to seek medical help in case of ongoing side-effects, including headaches or blood spots (bleeding under the skin).

The education minister, Anja Karliczek, said the move had thrown into chaos the plan to vaccinate teachers and carers, which is seen as key to allowing kindergartens and schools – which began reopening last Monday – in particular, to stay open. The expectation that GPs would be able to start administering the vaccine in their practices from next month, seen as vital to speeding up the programme, is now also in doubt.

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