German vaccine commission says people under 60 shouldn't receive AstraZeneca second dose

A German vaccine commission is advising people under the age of 60 that have received their first dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine to not receive their second dose.

Reuters reported that the panel, called STIKO, recommended that people receive a dose of an mRNA-based vaccine, such as those from Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna, 12 weeks after receiving their first AstraZeneca dose.

“Until the appropriate data is available, STIKO recommends for people under 60 years old that instead of the second AstraZeneca dose, a dose of an mRNA-vaccine should be given 12 weeks after the first vaccine,” STIKO said, according to Reuters.

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STIKO noted that here was no scientific evidence on the safety of a mixed series of vaccines, according to the wire service.

An AstraZeneca spokesperson told The Hill that it respects the commission's decision, but reaffirmed that regulators have not found an established a causal link between the vaccine and clotting.

"AstraZeneca continues to analyze its database on tens of millions of records for COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca to understand whether these very rare cases of blood clots associated with thrombocytopenia occur any more commonly than would be expected naturally in a population of millions of people," the spokesperson said in a statement. "We will continue to work with German authorities to address any questions they may have." 

The recommendation comes after Germany suspended the use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine for those under the age of 60 over concerns of a rare occurrence of blood clots found in a small number of people that received the vaccine.

STIKO at the time planned on releasing recommendations for those who had received their first dose by the end of April.

A handful of countries have paused or suspended the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine amid reports of blood clots in a small percentage of patients. 

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Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended on Monday against using the vaccine in adults under age 55 while it investigated concerns over clotting.

The European Medicines Agency said Wednesday that there was a remote possibility of blood clots, but there was no evidence that the vaccine was linked to an increased risk of clotting.

AstraZeneca said in late March that its vaccine was 76 percent effective against symptomatic COVID-19, and that it planned on filing for an emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Updated at 10:47 a.m.