Comment: AstraZeneca for everyone and very quickly is not a good idea

In the past few days there has been a lot of movement in vaccination against Covid-19. Anyone over the age of 18 can now be vaccinated with AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson vaccines after medical advice. The rush is expected, because freedom beckons at the same time. Those who have been fully vaccinated and who have been proven to have recovered from the infection enjoy the first freedoms that we so eagerly await.

In addition, with the first warm days, the longing for a carefree summer vacation spreads and the uncertainties increase: Who is allowed to go on vacation and where? Can some move around freely and others have to take the daily test and justify themselves for their entire vacation? Economics Minister Peter Altmaier believes that summer vacation is at least possible for everyone – even for those “only” who tested negative. “Otherwise it is unequal treatment,” he said, according to the Tagesschau. But so far there are only safe freedoms for those who have been vaccinated.

But let us grant those vaccinated and recovered freedom without envy! To say this with conviction would have been easy until a few days ago, because the vaccination prioritization clearly stipulated that those who have been vaccinated so far are over 60 years old or have serious health problems. Yes, well, there are always exceptions and cheaters, but do you get jealous and proclaim a two-class society? Oh no.

But now everything is somehow different. Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn not only releases the unpopular vaccine from AstraZeneca (and Johnson & Johnson), but in order to make it more attractive, it lures more or less subtly with more freedom for those who have been vaccinated. You could also shorten the interval between vaccinations.

Of course, it is unacceptable for vaccine doses to remain unvaccinated in a raging pandemic. Then better share. But Spahn told Deutschlandfunk that five to six million over-60-year-olds will have to be vaccinated in the coming weeks – why is the approval now? After all, the Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) recommends both AstraZeneca as well as the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine explicitly for over 60-year-olds, since it is only from this age that the benefit of protecting against Covid 19 disease outweighs the risk of the very rare but serious side effects of thrombosis.

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If you can’t find an answer to this question but like a puzzle, you can ask yourself the next: Why can doctors now shorten the interval between the two necessary doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to four weeks instead of the recommended twelve weeks? This short vaccination interval is covered by European approval, however, there is an interval of twelve weeks proven to have a positive effect on the effectiveness of immune protection.

Carsten Watzl, Head of the Immunology Research Department at the Leibniz Institute for Labor Research at TU Dortmund University, finds clear words: “Studies have clearly shown that the effectiveness is only 55 percent with an interval of less than six weeks and only with an interval of twelve weeks is over 80 percent! That’s a huge difference. So you have to tell people clearly: If you shorten your vaccination interval at AstraZeneca in order to benefit from relaxation more quickly, you are doing it at the expense of your immune protection! ”

So freshly vaccinated but only half protected for the holidays? Better free than healthy and the vaccine just has to go? That jumped briefly in another respect: The first vaccination also provides good protection against severe disease – but if many doses are given to impatient people who prefer to go on vacation without tests than to be really well protected, fewer people receive early immune protection the first vaccination.

But this is necessary to get a permanent grip on the third wave. In the summer there would be enough time to vaccinate a second time and everyone benefits from the relaxation and not just the few who would be fully vaccinated and – on paper – protected by a short vaccination interval.


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