A coronavirus vaccination summit between Germany's federal and state governments is to be postponed after the suspension of the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, a government spokesman said on Tuesday.
The talks on Germany's vaccination campaign - which has been widely criticized for its slow pace - and the involvement of general practitioners in the effort will be postponed until the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has reached a final decision on the Astrazeneca vaccine, he added.
In an unexpected move, the Health Ministry announced on Monday that Germany would follow other European countries in suspending the use of the jab, which has been inconclusively linked to a risk of blood clots.
Wednesday's planned summit was intended to centre on the topic of whether and how to involve general practitioners in the vaccine effort. The AstraZeneca jab is important in this regard, because it does not need to be stored at extreme temperatures like counterparts from other pharmaceutical companies.
Experts have slammed Germany's decision to suspend the use of AstraZeneca, with many arguing that the benefits of using it to get closer to herd immunity far outweigh its risks.
Christoph Spinner of the Technical University Munich told dpa on Tuesday that the continued use of AstraZeneca was critically important for the safety of the German population.
Spinner said the fact that mostly people with comorbidities were being vaccinated at this time meant that the risk of blood clots may be higher at the outset.
"Incidentally, a severe Covid-19 disease also regularly causes thromboembolic events: For this reason alone, a vaccination is absolutely sensible," he added. "From what we know today, the drug is safe."