Germany recommends only Biontech/Pfizer vaccine for under-30s

FILE PHOTO: Germany continues mass vaccination of its citizens against COVID-19

By Riham Alkousaa

BERLIN (Reuters) -People aged under 30 in Germany should only receive the Biontech/Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as it causes fewer heart inflammations in younger people than the Moderna shot, an advisory committee said on Wednesday.

The committee, known as STIKO, recommended that pregnant women also be inoculated only with the Biontech/Pfizer vaccine, regardless of their age.

The recommendations are based on new safety data from the Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI), Germany's authority in charge of vaccines, and new international data.

Several other European Union countries have already recommended limiting use of the Moderna vaccine among younger people.

The German PEI data showed a "report rate" for heart inflammations of 11.71 per 100,000 shots with the Moderna vaccine for men in the 18-29 age group, compared with 4.68 for the Biontech/Pfizer shot. For women, the rate was 2.95 with Moderna and 0.97 with Biontech/Pfizer.

In the 12-17 age group, the rate was 11.41 for males with the Moderna shot compared with 4.81 for Biontech/Pfizer. There was no data provided for females in the lower age group.


France's public health authority this week recommended that under-30s be given the Pfizer vaccine when available instead of the Moderna shot. Finland and Sweden have also limited use of the Moderna shot.

The EU's drug regulator said last month it concluded in its review that Moderna's COVID-19 booster vaccine could be given to people aged 18 years and above, at least six months after the second dose.

On Tuesday Moderna applied for European authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine in children aged 6-11 years, weeks after it delayed a similar filing with U.S. regulators.

STIKO made no mention of the COVID-19 vaccines from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.

Germany said on May 7 it would give the AstraZeneca shot to all adults who want it. It had previously restricted use to over-60s after post-vaccination monitoring found rare - and sometimes fatal - cases of blood clotting, with younger women disproportionately affected.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Robert Koch Institute public health authority reported 39,676 new COVID-19 cases in Germany, a record for the third day in a row. That brought the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases to 4,844,054.

The total number of deaths increased by 236 to 96,963.

The institute also reported a rise in the coronavirus seven-day incidence rate - the number of people per 100,000 to be infected over the last week - to the highest level since the start of the pandemic, also a record for the third day in a row.

Germany has already had to relocate some patients from regions with overburdened hospitals.

The three German parties in talks to form a coalition government by early December have agreed not to extend a nationwide state of emergency.

Instead, they presented a draft law on Monday that would amend existing legislation to allow for measures such as compulsory face masks and social distancing in public spaces to continue to be enforced until next March.

The draft law is due to be presented to the Bundestag lower house of parliament on Thursday and voted on in a special session a week later.

(Reporting by Riham Alkousaa and Paul Carrel; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Gareth Jones)