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Scepticism over Oxford vaccine threatens Europe's immunisation push
Politicians in Germany are stepping out in support of the AstraZeneca vaccine as public scepticism around the University of Oxford-developed product threatens to hamper Europe's Covid-19 immunisation programme.

The vaccine, subject of an acrimonious tug-of-war between its British-Swedish manufacturer and the European commission last month, is being described by German media as a "shelf warmer" as only about 17% of doses delivered to the country have been administered so far.

According to the German disease control agency's monitoring, 129,021 doses of a delivered 736,800 had been administered by Thursday this week

Side-effects that can follow a shot of the Oxford-developed vaccine, which were reported in clinical trials, are also causing logistical problems in its use among medics.

Karl-Dieter Heller, the director of the Herzogin Elisabeth hospital in Braunschweig, told Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper that he had decided to vaccinate his staff only in smaller groups and on Fridays, after 40% of one group called in sick with flu-like symptoms after receiving their jab on a Thursday.

Heller said none of his staff had fallen seriously ill and all were able to return to work on the Monday after.

Other countries have reported similar problems. In Sweden's Sörmland and Gävleborg regions, health authorities temporarily paused vaccinations after a quarter of workers injected with the AstraZeneca shot called in sick the following day, but added the programme would resume with the same vaccine the following week.

In south-west France, a hospital in Périgueux asked in an open letter that the AstraZeneca vaccine be replaced with shots from Moderna and BioNTech/Pfizer after 50% to 70% of injected staff experienced side-effects.

At a general hospital in the Austrian capital, Vienna, 500 members of staff signed a protest letter after finding out they would receive the AstraZeneca shot rather than the BioNTech/Pfizer one.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Feb 20th, 2021 at 10:03:21 AM EST
Virologists are losing their credibility as the political cause takes hold across Europe ...

In Germany, solidarity of people under 65 years old enforced.

Until now, Berlin has been the only German state where people could choose their vaccine. But that has now changed.

"There is no freedom of choice about AstraZeneca," Dilek Kalayci, Berlin's top health official, said Wednesday. Different vaccines would still be issued in different vaccination centers, but people under 65 have no choice about which one they receive, she explained.

Kalayci's decision came after a recommendation by the commission on vaccination at the RKI. According to the institute, vaccines that are recommended only for people between 18 and 65 years of age should also be used "primarily" for these groups of people. However, this recommendation alone is unlikely to dispel skepticism about the British-Swedish vaccine and could lead to younger people being reluctant to be vaccinated at all.

Doctors also explain that side-effects such as headaches and aching limbs or even fever are not uncommon after a COVID vaccination. In younger people, side effects occur more frequently because the immune system is still more active and reacts more aggressively to any vaccination than in older people.

The discipline in a hierarchical state as in Germany is not uncommon, PM Rutte had already embraced the "no-choice" rule in the Netherlands.

by Oui on Sun Feb 21st, 2021 at 08:24:58 AM EST
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