The European Commission has denied that AstraZeneca has a contractual obligation to the UK that would prevent a full delivery of doses of Covid-19, exacerbating the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company’s problems as Germany and Canada became the latest countries to limit its vaccine to older people over. suspected links to a rare blood clotting disorder in younger people.
A spokesperson for the European Commission on Tuesday contradicted British Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s claim that AstraZeneca’s deal with Britain would justify priority deliveries to the UK.
“AstraZeneca has confirmed to us that it has no obligation to other parties that would prevent it from fulfilling its obligations,” the spokesperson said at a press conference.
The vaccine developed by Oxford is a cornerstone of the vaccination rollout in the UK and EU, which has purchased 400 million doses, as well as the UN-backed Covax initiative, which aims to distribute vaccines to the poorest countries.
In addition to being the subject of an acrimonious standoff between Britain and the European Union, the Anglo-Swedish company has been plagued by public relations problems due to test data and d ‘security reviews, not only in the EU but also in the US. , Switzerland and Norway.
On Tuesday, Canada became the latest country to suspend use of the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine for those under 55 as a precaution, indicating new data from Europe suggesting a link with a rare blood clotting disorder .
“There is substantial uncertainty about the benefits of providing AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines to adults under 55 given the potential risks,” said Dr Shelley Deeks, vice chair of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, who recommended the new guidelines.
Germany will administer the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine from Wednesday mainly to people over 60, after the country’s vaccination commission reported more cases of a very rare and specific type of blood clot in the veins brain damage in people who had received the vaccine.
Younger people, including those who have already received a first dose, will still have the option of receiving the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine after being informed of the risks by their GP, reported Der Spiegel. Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke on the issue on Tuesday evening with the heads of the country’s 16 states.
Initially, the German Vaccine Commission approved the use of the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine in people under the age of 65 only, citing insufficient data on its effects in the elderly. But the vaccine was cleared for all age groups on March 4.
Around 2.7 million people in Germany received a first injection of the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine in total, and around 800 people received a second dose. The Paul Ehrlich Institute, the German medical regulatory body for vaccines, has recorded 31 cases of cerebral venous thrombosis in those who received the vaccine, 19 of which occurred with a decrease in platelets (thrombocytopenia). Twenty-nine of these cases involved women under the age of 70.
The Paul Ehrlich Institute has reported nine deaths as a result of these side effects. The latest data suggests a risk of blood clots of up to one in 100,000, higher than the risk of one in a million previously believed.
The UK vaccine regulator, MHRA, has only reported four cases of sinuous cerebral venous thrombosis in people who received an Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine between the start of the year and March 14, compared with two cases among those who did. had the Pfizer. / BioNTech jab.
In a March 25 statement, the MHRA said a rigorous scientific review did not suggest the blood clots in the veins were caused by the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine and that there had been less than one in a million cases. disease in the UK.
There have also been reports of immune thrombocytopenia in the United States in people who received the Pfizer / BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, although the data does not show whether the problems were directly related to the vaccine.
Several other European countries have already limited the use of Oxford / AstraZeneca to people who are at a higher risk of dying from Covid-19: people aged 55 or over in France, 65 or over in Sweden and Finland , and 70 years or older in Iceland. .