Covid-19 roundup: AstraZeneca vaccine halted in Germany for below-60 population; Pfizer says Covid-19 vaccine has 100% efficacy in children ages 12-15
Germany will stop using AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine on residents below the age of 60 due to concerns surrounding “rare but fatal blood clots,” according to the Washington Post.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday that the government cannot ignore the recommendation from Germany’s vaccine committee. The Paul Ehrlich Institute reported 31 cases of venous thrombosis, a brain clot that can lead to hemorrhaging.
With venous thrombosis, the vein that drains blood from the brain is blocked, which can lead to deadly bleeding in the brain. The patients in all 31 cases had low levels of platelets. That leads to clotting.
Those 31 cases happened among the 2.7 million people in the country that received AstraZeneca’s virus.
Nine people have died, the Post reports. Everyone who experienced the brain clot was younger than 63, and all but two of those reported cases were in women.
A group of clotting specialists led by Andreas Greinacher of the University of Greifswald say that the side effects are similar to those of the blood thinner heparin called heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT), Science reported.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine has been under scrutiny after pooling data from different and release conflicting efficacy numbers last fall. In some of those announcements, the vaccine appeared potentially far less effective than the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna’s reports of 95% and 94.5%.
Last week, the DSMB charged with overseeing the trial alerted officials at the NIH that AstraZeneca had ignored its recommendation to tell the public that the data they were seeing in February and March indicated a rate of 69% to 74%. That led NIH director Anthony Fauci to go on ABC’s Good Morning America and call the move an “unforced error.”
“The fact is this is very likely a very good vaccine,” Fauci said. “This kind of thing does … really cast some doubt about the vaccines and maybe contribute to the hesitancy. It was not necessary.”
The company has adjusted the efficacy rate of its vaccine to 76% to 79%.
Pfizer says Covid-19 vaccine has 100% in children ages 12-15
A Phase III trial of Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine has demonstrated 100% efficacy in children between the ages of 12 and 15, Pfizer announced Wednesday. Those results exceed efficacy numbers recorded earlier reported in participants between the ages of 16 and 25 years old, the company stated in a release.
The trial — which consisted of 2,260 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15 — saw 18 cases of Covid-19 appear in the placebo group, and none in the vaccinated group, Pfizer said. The company plans to submit the data for the FDA and EMA for an amendment to the EUA of the vaccine.
“Across the globe, we are longing for a normal life. This is especially true for our children,” said BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin in a statement. “The initial results we have seen in the adolescent studies suggest that children are particularly well protected by vaccination.”
For a look at all Endpoints News coronavirus stories, check out our special news channel.