When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

A deserted vaccination centre in Erfurt, Germany, after authorities suspended the use of the AstraZeneca jab over blood clot fears.
A deserted vaccination centre in Erfurt, Germany, after authorities suspended the use of the AstraZeneca jab over blood clot fears.

Welcome to Wednesday, where a shooting in Atlanta leaves eight dead, a Japanese court ruling could be a breakthrough for LGBTQ rights and Saint Patrick's Day celebrations are cancelled again. We also travel to Argentine's sea waters where an onslaught of foreign fishing fleets threatens marine life.

Let them have AstraZeneca! The negligence of Europe's leaders

As elsewhere in Europe, the German government's decision to suspend the use of the vaccine makes no logical sense when you weigh up the risks in concrete figures, writes Justus Haucap, Professor of Economics at the University of Düsseldorf, in German daily Die Welt:

Suspending use of the AstraZeneca vaccine is a major blow for Germany's vaccination program. Over the past few weeks, AstraZeneca made up around 40% of vaccines administered in the country.

The vaccination program was already rolling out very slowly, and now the brakes are being slammed on. The promise of every adult being offered at least a first dose of the vaccine before the end of summer is beginning to look quite doubtful indeed.

Even if Germany starts offering the AstraZeneca vaccine again soon, the population may still be reluctant to receive it. But vaccines are our only way out of the pandemic. The collateral damage of suspending use of this specific vaccine could be huge.

The decision to halt all use of the AstraZeneca vaccine will prove to be a grave mistake, with serious consequences. So far in Germany, there have been seven reported cases of blood clots in the brain identified in patients who had received the vaccine.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has reported 41 cases of blood clots among the more than five million people who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine. Even if this number is higher than it should be, the risk is still only 0.0008%.

Many other medicines come with significantly higher risks. If every German citizen received the AstraZeneca vaccine — which won't be the case — we would expect to see at most 650 people experiencing complications. If 30 to 40% of the population received it, it would be between 200 and 260 cases.

The risk of unvaccinated people contracting coronavirus and becoming seriously ill is far higher. In the past seven days alone, there have been 110,000 new infections reported in Germany.

If only 1% of infections are fatal, that would still be more than 1,000 people — and that's only one week's worth of infections. With the threat of a third wave fast approaching, it's unthinkable to allow these very low risks to slow down the vaccination programme.

To salvage what we can, the German government should now make it possible for anyone who wishes to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine to do so. I personally would be first in line.

Anyone who would prefer to wait for a different vaccine and run the risk of being infected with coronavirus can do so. But there's no reason to make everyone wait. In fact, it's negligent, given the risk of a third wave.

Without the AstraZeneca vaccine, we may see fewer blood clots, but we will certainly see many more deaths from coronavirus, to say nothing of the continuing restrictions imposed on our basic freedoms and everyday life.

Justus Haucap / Die Welt

Keep reading... Show less
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
In The News

War in Ukraine, Day 92: Is Severodonetsk The Next Mariupol?

Russian troops are attempting to encircle Severodonetsk, the last key city remaining under Ukrainian control in the Luhansk region, as Vladimir Putin looks to claim victory in a war that is not going Moscow's way. But will the toll be for civilians?

Inside a shelter in Severodonetsk.

Meike Eijsberg, Shaun Lavelle and Cameron Manley

Severodonetsk, the last key city remaining under Ukrainian control in the Luhansk area, is now the focal point of Russia’s war. In 2014, it had been recaptured from the pro-Russian separatists in a hard-fought battle by Ukrainian forces. Now, eight years later, Moscow is launching an all-out attack to try to take it back again.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

Alex Crawford, a Sky News correspondent in the region, says Russian forces have the means to conquer the city that in normal times has a population of circa 100,000 — and Moscow will be eager to cite it as the “victory”. But, Crawford wrote, “the path to victory comes – like the capture of the port city of Mariupol – strewn with the broken and battered bodies of the city's citizens.”

Keep reading... Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch Video Show less
MOST READ