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AstraZeneca vaccination against coronavirus: four weeks apart significantly reduces the effectiveness


Health Minister Spahn has suggested shortening the interval between two AstraZeneca vaccinations to four weeks. This should make vacation planning easier - but at the expense of effectiveness.

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AstraZeneca vaccination doses at a vaccination center in Perth, Australia


Getting vaccinated against Covid-19 has become even more attractive this week: The Bundestag has decided to return people who have been completely vaccinated or have recovered their rights of freedom.

The Federal Council approved the law on Friday.

From the weekend, the same relief should apply to them that were previously reserved for people with negative corona tests.

They can also meet without restrictions and are not included in meetings with unvaccinated people.

Some federal states also partially open tourism, such as holiday homes, to this group (read more here).

However, those who get the vaccine from AstraZeneca have to wait longer to benefit from the regulation.

The interval between two vaccinations and thus the period until complete vaccination protection is currently three months.

Disadvantage AstraZeneca

Anyone who receives the first dose of AstraZeneca today will only benefit from the easing at the beginning of August.

The funds from Biontech / Pfizer and Moderna, on the other hand, are administered six weeks apart, while Johnson & Johnson only requires one dose in total.

That should not necessarily make the vaccine, which has already fallen into disrepute, more attractive, especially not for people who are currently vaccinated and who could cope much more quickly with another drug.

Health Minister Jens Spahn has therefore made what he sees as a "practical" proposal to shorten the interval between AstraZeneca vaccinations to four weeks - with a view to vacation planning.

Indeed: That could increase the reputation of the remedy, but at the expense of its effectiveness.

A quarter less effective

At the end of February 2021, AstraZeneca published data in the specialist magazine "The Lancet" according to which its vaccine


the risk of Covid 19 disease

by a good 80 percent

if there were three months between two doses.

The statement was based on 53 Covid-19 cases that occurred among those vaccinated at this distance or an unvaccinated comparison group.

At the same time it was shown that the antibodies from those vaccinated at a greater distance also bind better to the virus.

If, on the other hand, there were only six weeks or even less between two AstraZeneca vaccine doses, the vaccination was only able

to reduce

the Covid 19 risk

by 55 percent


The number was based on 111 cases of the disease among vaccinated persons and a comparison group.

No question about it: the value of 55 percent is still good and meets the criteria of the World Health Organization (WHO) for an effective Covid-19 vaccine.

It can be significantly increased by a longer distance, but with very little effort - according to the current data status by up to a quarter.

more on the subject

  • Corona vaccination campaign: Federal and state governments cancel prioritization for AstraZeneca

  • Traveling in Europe: Will the dream of a vacation come true at Pentecost?

At the beginning of April, however, the Standing Vaccination Commission (Stiko) recommended that AstraZeneca should be administered every three months instead of the previous six weeks.

Incidentally, the number of people who have been vaccinated at least once and thus have at least a certain level of protection can be increased more quickly.

Shortly before, a preliminary evaluation from the USA based on 190 Covid 19 cases had shown an effectiveness of the vaccination

of 76 percent

at an interval of four weeks.

However, there were some hiccups about the data in advance.

They were only published in a press release.

AstraZeneca had tested its vaccine in various scenarios.

The first data on effectiveness were based on the interval of about one month now proposed by Spahn.

The approval of the agent by the European Medicines Agency EMA thus covers the vaccination schedule - but in Germany it is not recommended by Stiko for good reasons.

Long debate about effectiveness

Just a few weeks ago there was loud discussion in Germany about the comparatively poorer effectiveness of the AstraZeneca product.

The first interim results of the approval studies had shown an effectiveness against Covid-19 of about 60 percent after two full doses.

For the funds from Biontech / Pfizer and Moderna, the values ​​were over 90 percent.

AstraZeneca became the de facto second choice vaccine in the weeks and months that followed.

Health workers who were initially supposed to be provided with the drug because too little data was available for the very old high-risk group did not want to be vaccinated in some cases.

Even when the vaccine was recommended for the elderly, vaccination appointments remained unused, although the drug, like the others, prevents severe and fatal courses with almost absolute certainty.

Rare cases of sinus vein thrombosis also contributed to the bad reputation.

Since these mainly affected younger women, people under the age of 60 were no longer provided with the drug in vaccination centers.

In order to promote vaccination in Germany, the federal and state governments canceled the prioritization for the substance on Thursday.

Younger people would not be vaccinated until the summer anyway

Younger people without risk, who would have been last in the actual prioritization, can now be vaccinated against Covid-19 at an early stage.

With an interval of three months between the vaccination doses, they would probably have been fully vaccinated a little earlier or at a similar point in time as if they were waiting for another drug with a shorter interval, but would at least have the protection of the first vaccination at an early stage.

more on the subject

  • Individual risk assessment: vaccinating once is less risky than a week's skiing vacationBy Nina Weber

  • Coronavirus: What a loosening of the vaccination sequence speaks by Julia Merlot and Katherine Rydlink

The further the vaccination campaign advances, the more the distance becomes more important for them.

So far, almost a third of people in Germany have been vaccinated against Covid-19 once, and around ten percent have received two vaccinations.

Spahn put it this way: In doctors' surgeries, doctors and the vaccinee will in future decide, at the "medical discretion", who receives which vaccine and when.

It is then at the discretion of medical professionals when full vaccination protection applies - and thus also how effective it will be in the case of the AstraZeneca product.

Editor's note: We have subsequently added the results of the analysis from the USA.

Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2021-05-09

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