NewsIs the Standing Committee on Vaccination too slow?

Is the Standing Committee on Vaccination too slow?

Politicians should increase the body instead of criticizing it.

Two years ago, hardly anyone in the general public knew that there was something like a Standing Vaccination Commission in Germany. Since then, there has hardly been a news program on radio and television that does not talk about the Standing Vaccination Commission, the so-called StIKo.

The StIKo is assigned to the Robert Koch Institute, which in turn reports to the Federal Ministry of Health. The tasks of the StIKo are stipulated by law. They consist of collecting and evaluating all scientific information that is relevant in connection with vaccinations and publishing it in the form of binding recommendations. There are separate recommendations for vaccinations against measles, whooping cough, rabies, tetanus, etc., which have been summarized in a vaccination calendar since 1976.

And then Corona came. Almost all those responsible were initially helpless, although, for example, the Scientific Service of the German Bundestag had already run through the scenario of a corona pandemic in 2013, including precise recommendations on how to prepare for it. This elaboration was on the desks of all MPs and in all ministries. But nobody took it seriously.

After the first shock waves of the pandemic were over, rescue soon came in sight: the vaccination. Our government supported pharmaceutical research with billions of euros, and after just over a year several vaccines were available. That was the hour of the StIKo. She now had to check the vaccines and make a recommendation. The StIKo usually takes at least two years to do its job, especially when it comes to vaccines based on a completely new technology.

Why is this taking so long? Quite simply: The StIKo has only 18 members. All 18 work on a voluntary basis, i.e. in addition to their normal job. The StIKo office in the Robert Koch Institute has three permanent employees: inside. In the last few months one had to be amazed again and again to note that Prime Ministers, Health Ministers, even the President of the Bundestag, sharply criticized the StIKo for its “indolence” and put it under pressure. After all, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has long since approved the vaccine for children from the age of five, while the StIKo is still thinking. Studies with fewer than 3000 vaccinated children from the USA were sufficient for the EMA, but not for the StIKo. She asked for more data to base her decision on. We should be grateful to her for this instead of attacking her. But science was and is being pushed against the wall and overtaken by politics. Actually non-negotiable criteria of normal scientific work were and are disregarded.

In view of the global pandemic, the Minister of Health should have increased the StIKo immediately with a sufficient number of permanent and well-paid full-time scientists. Instead of three, at least 30 permanent employees would have been needed, who would have to constantly search through world literature and present it to the StIKo experts on a daily basis. In the case of the corona vaccines, a lot more care than usual would have been necessary, because our government had exempted the vaccine manufacturers from any product liability for the vaccines. After all, the StIKo is there to protect us from the undesirable effects of vaccinations.

But nothing like that happened. And that even though health has top priority.

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