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UPDATE 1-We need to know if AstraZeneca shot is safe for Germany - Bavaria's Soeder

(Recasts, adds quotes, context)

BERLIN, March 15 (Reuters) - Bavarian premier Markus Soeder called for clarity on whether AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine was safe after the Netherlands became the latest country to stop using the shot after reports of patients falling ill after receiving it.

The German Health Ministry told Reuters on Monday that it would keep issuing the vaccine despite reports of serious side-effects in other European countries. So far no, no clear statistical evidence has been presented of it being dangerous.

The Dutch government said on Sunday that its decision to stop issuing the vaccine was based on reports from Denmark and Norway of possible serious side-effects, including bleeding and blood clots.

“There has to be an extra clear statement in Germany,” Soeder, premier of one of Germany’s richest regions, told a news conference. “Is the vaccine good or bad? We now need statements that this vaccine is effective and can work.”

Last week, Lothar Wieler, head of Germany’s Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases, said there was no evidence that patients who received the vaccine were more likely than patients of a similar age group to suffer blood conditions.

“Since we’re now vaccinating the old and very old, and most people who die are of course old and very old, then there can be a chronological link between vaccination and death,” he said on Friday.

“There is no evidence that the link is statistically excessive,” Wieler added.

European vaccination programmes have been upset in the last two weeks by reports that recipients of the AstraZeneca inoculation have suffered blood clots.

The European Medicines Agency has said there is no indication that the events were caused by the vaccination, a view that was echoed by the World Health Organization on Friday. (Reporting by Paul Carrel and Andreas Rinke Writing by Thomas Escritt Editing by Riham Alkousaa and Nick Macfie)

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