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AstraZeneca says it respects this week’s decision by Germany to restrict the use of its coronavirus vaccine – but reiterated that the jab has been deemed safe by other health bodies.
“We respect the decision taken by STIKO [the Standing Committee on Vaccination] in their advisory capacity for use of vaccines in Germany,” the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company told dpa on Wednesday. “Patient safety remains the company’s highest priority.”
It added that investigations by the British and European vaccine regulators were “not able to establish a causal relationship between the vaccine and clotting events.”
On Tuesday, Germany’s federal and health ministers agreed to limit the use of the vaccine to people aged 60 and older due to concerns about blood clotting.
AstraZeneca said the European Medicines Agency (EMA) found in its review that there was no link between the vaccine and blood clotting, but further analysis was “deserved.”
“Regulatory authorities in the UK, European Union, the World Health Organization have concluded that the benefits of using our vaccine to protect people from this deadly virus significantly outweigh the risks across all adult age groups,” the company said.
“The benefit risk profile of the vaccine was reaffirmed in the EMA’s monthly safety update published [on Tuesday].”
The EMA on Wednesday reiterated its assessment that there is no link between the vaccine and blood clotting, deeming the jab safe to use for any age group.
“According to the current scientific knowledge, there is no evidence that would support restricting the use of this vaccine in any population,” the head of the EMA, Emer Cooke, said during a press conference.
A review of new evidence of blood clots was still ongoing, she said.
An updated recommendation on the use of the vaccine from the EMA is expected for its April 6-9 safety committee meeting, Cooke said.
The decision to limit the use of certain vaccines is up to the national authorities of each EU member state, she added.
Following the German government’s decision, the small south-western state of Saarland said it would stop using the vaccine completely.
Those currently booked to have the jab would instead be given the Moderna or BioNtech vaccines, the local health ministry said.
State officials were due to discuss the details and implementation of the decision on Wednesday.
Separately, AstraZeneca announced that the vaccine would be marketed under the name “Vaxzevria” in Europe in the future.
Its current name is “Covid-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca.”
The company said the switch to a permanent brand name is common and has been planned for many months.