The 30-year-old SPIEGEL editor, Maria Stöhr, was vaccinated with the corona vaccine from Astrazeneca at the beginning of March. Due to a chronic illness, she belongs to priority group two. In her story, which was published in “SPIEGEL”, Stöhr tells of trust. She reports on the uncertainty surrounding Astrazeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine. And about how quickly trust is lost and how difficult it is to find it again – especially in times of crisis.
At the time of their vaccination, following the recommendation of the Standing Vaccination Commission (Stiko), the vaccine is only approved in Germany for people between the ages of 18 and 64 years. Despite violent vaccination reactions, Stöhr is relieved in the coming days. But the feeling of relief does not last long: On March 15, Health Minister Jens Spahn announced the temporary ban on Astrazeneca’s Covid-19 vaccination.
This is due to some rare cases of cerebral vein thrombosis that occurred shortly after vaccination. According to Spahn, it was a precautionary measure. But the calming words did not have the desired effect on Stöhr. She was “angry, clueless, confused”. Many other countries are suspending vaccination. The virologist Karl Lauterbach considers this decision to be unfounded and a mistake. The vaccine has not yet been approved in Switzerland or the USA. And Stöhr thinks “Fuck”.
Young women are particularly affected. Stöhr is a young woman. She fights against panic and skepticism and tries to convince herself that everything is fine. After two sleepless nights, she tries to dispel her panic with facts: At this point in time, seven cases of sinus vein thrombosis are known in Germany, with 1.6 million first vaccinations with Astrazeneca. So there is one case for every 229,000 vaccinations. As of March 18, 13 cases are known in Germany. Nevertheless, like the European Medicines Agency, vaccinators assure that Astrazeneca is a safe and effective vaccine. The benefits of the vaccinations outweigh the risks. Therefore, the vaccinations will be resumed. Stöhr is reassured.
On March 23, Stöhr was still struggling with a headache. And with their fear: there is always new news about the Astrazeneca vaccine. A nurse from her area came to the emergency room with a severe headache and died 17 days after the vaccination. Stöhr describes the absurdity of the situation as follows: She fears that means “that can save my health, maybe my life”.
A week later, on March 30th, the vaccination commission issued a new recommendation: Astrazeneca should now only be vaccinated in people over 60. This assessment is based on 31 cases of sinus vein thrombosis, 29 of which were women, and nine deaths. Nevertheless, younger people should still have the opportunity to be vaccinated with Astrazeneca if they wish. Before doing this, they should be carefully informed about the risks.
Stiko is still checking whether people who have already received the first vaccination should receive a different vaccine for the second dose. According to Lauterbach, those who have been vaccinated for the first time have nothing to fear. On April 1st, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier set an example: he was vaccinated with Astrazeneca. In doing so, he is sending out a message: He continues to trust the vaccine, which is approved in Germany. This also gives Stöhr back a little trust.