BERLIN (AP), Germany recommends that everyone who has received a first dose of AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine should switch to a second shot. As the more contagious Delta variant spreads, the goal is to improve the effectiveness and speed of vaccinations.
Jens Spahn, Health Minister, met with 16 colleagues from Germany on Friday to discuss the draft recommendation of the country's standing vaccination committee. The committee stated that the current research shows that the combination of AstraZeneca and an mRNA vaccine significantly improved the immune response.
The committee recommended that the second dose of mRNA vaccine Germany (BioNTech-Pfizer or Moderna) be administered at least four weeks after the first AstraZeneca shot. This is shorter than the 9 to 12 weeks recommended by the committee for between two doses AstraZeneca.
The German acronym STIKO was used to refer to the committee. It didn't provide details about the studies that led it to its conclusions. The German disease control center pointed out that the report was only a draft and that there will be a final recommendation that provides more information and sources. Researchers believe that mixing vaccines is safe and effective. However, they are still collecting data to confirm this.
German authorities had already decided that anyone under 60 who has received an AstraZeneca shot in April should be given a second dose of mRNA vaccine. After the AstraZeneca vaccine had been linked to rare blood clots in young people, this decision was made. Germany recommends that anyone under 60 consult a doctor before they take the vaccine.
Spahn stated Friday that sufficient mRNA vaccine was available to implement the new recommendation rapidly. This makes AstraZeneca's vaccine more appealing, as large quantities are now arriving and there is a possibility of a shorter wait for the second shot.
According to him, STIKO's head stated that BioNTech and AstraZeneca protect as little as BioNTech-BioNTech combined. However, he stressed that AstraZeneca can be used in two doses. BioNTech-Pfizer was the mainstay of Germany’s campaign. AstraZeneca came in second place for doses administered.
Continue the story
Germany wants to continue its vaccination campaign at a fast pace despite the fact that new infections are down to their lowest levels in months. This is due to the rise in the delta variant. It is now responsible for more than half the new cases and authorities are determined to make sure that everyone gets their second shot.
Spahn stated that only double-vaccinated people are protected against delta.
Germany had administered at least one shot to 55.1%, with 37.3% of the population fully vaccinated as of Wednesday. Spahn stated that this is a good number, but not enough.
After receiving her first shot of AstraZeneca, Chancellor Angela Merkel, 66, received a second Moderna's vaccine shot. According to her spokesperson, this was an effort to encourage people to not be afraid if they are given a mixture of shots.