Germany’s 16 federal states have spent a reported €600 million buying 50 million doses of the Pandemrix vaccine, produced by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).
This new vaccine, one of two to be offered by Irish doctors, is the subject of controversy in Germany because it contains a “booster” substance known as an “adjuvant”. This allows less virus material to be used per dose and, according to GSK, boosts the immune system’s response to the jab.
Pandemrix was approved for use by the European Medicines Agency last month and has the approval of Germany’s Paul Ehrlich Institute, which advises the government on vaccination matters. However, another government body, the Federal Vaccination Agency, has contradicted the institute and has advised against the use of vaccines containing adjuvants.
Concerns about Pandemrix’s safety and efficacy have been raised by several German medical organisations, with warnings against using it to vaccinate high-risk groups such as pregnant women and children.
Dr Wolfram Hartmann, president of the German association of paediatricians, accused the federal government of “false testimony” for recommending Pandemrix for use on young children – six weeks after it issued advice to the contrary.
“The vaccine has not yet been tested on children under three, so the risk is simply too big to use on them without misgivings,” he said.