Germany’s vaccine committee, known as STIKO, on Tuesday recommended using AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine only for people aged 60 and over following further reports of a rare brain blood disorder.

“After several consultations, STIKO, with the help of external experts, decided by a majority to recommend the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine only for persons aged 60 years and older on the basis of available data on the occurrence of rare but very severe thromboembolic side effects,” it said in a statement.

German leaders were due to discuss the use of the Anglo-Swedish firm’s vaccine after several states said they would stop giving the shot to people under the age of 60 following the reports of the rare brain blood disorder.

Health Minister Jens Spahn was due to talk with his regional counterparts at 1800 CET (1600 GMT), a ministry spokesman said.

The meeting follows further reports by Germany’s vaccine regulator, the Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI), of cases of blood clots known as cerebral sinus vein thrombosis (CSVT).

PEI said it had registered 31 cases of CSVT, which resulted in nine deaths, out of some 2.7 million people who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine. With the exception of two cases, all reports involved women aged between 20 and 63.

Before STIKO issued its statement, several German states, including Berlin and Brandenburg, as well as the city of Munich, said they would stop giving the shot to people under 60.

State hospital groups Charite and Vivantes suspended vaccinations in female staff aged under 55, citing further cases of CSVT.

Because use of the vaccine in Germany was initially limited to those under 65, the shot has been administered among younger women, particularly medical staff and teachers.

“Regarding the question of administering the second vaccine dose to younger persons who have already received a first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, STIKO will issue a supplementary recommendation by the end of April,” STIKO said.

Many European countries briefly stopped using AstraZeneca’s vaccine earlier this month while investigating rare cases of blood clots.

Both the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the World Health Organization said this month the benefits of AstraZeneca’s vaccine outweighed the risks.

An EMA review covering 20 million people who took the AstraZeneca shot in Britain and the European Economic Area found seven cases of blood clots in multiple blood vessels and 18 cases of CVST.

culled from Reuters

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