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27.06.2022 15:07

Results from a large VITT patient study published today in the New England Journal Medicine

Constanze Steinke Pressearbeit
Universität Greifswald

    Definitive findings: Only the vector vaccines alone are responsible for the severe prothrombotic side effect vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT)

    At the beginning of last year, a VITT team led by Professor Dr. Andreas Greinacher from the Universitätsmedizin Greifswald, Germany, identified the cause of rare cerebral vein sinus thrombosis after Covid-19 vaccination with the vector vaccine of AstraZeneca. The team developed a laboratory test for detection and a treatment option for VITT.

    New results of the large German patient study with 69 affected women and men from all over Germany are now available, which clearly show that the vector vaccines AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson alone are responsible for the very rare but dangerous vaccination side effect VITT. Neither the spike protein nor the infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus induce this unwanted immune reaction. The study was published today in the New England Journal of Medicine*.

    In very rare cases, immune mediated thromboses can arise after vaccination against the SARS-CoV-2 virus with adenovirus vector vaccines, especially life threatening cerebral vein sinus thrombosis. The cause of the severe so-called vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT) are antibodies against the platelet protein platelet factor 4 (PF4), which strongly activate blood clotting. These antibodies are triggered by components in the vaccine that bind to PF4.

    "Today the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is meeting with scientists from all over the world who will present their research data on thrombosis events as a side effect of vaccination," said Prof. Dr Andreas Greinacher. “We will also present our new findings there. In this respect, the great efforts and commitment has paid off. The young Greifswald clinician scientist Dr. Linda Schönborn takes care for 69 VITT patients from all over Germany with great commitment, since March 2021."

    The mean age of patients was 48 years, the youngest patient is 18 and the oldest 80 years old. Approximately 60 percent are women. "These patients need support in regard to many questions and uncertainties, which arising after severe VITT. Because VITT is so rare, none of the treating physicians in Europe has as much experience with the disease as the Greifswald team. In return, the VITT patients actively supported our research. We are very grateful to them,” says Andreas Greinacher.

    With the help of former VITT patients, Linda Schönborn has now been able to exclude that contact with the SARS-CoV-2 virus or the spike protein triggers the dangerous VITT antibodies. “Of the 69 VITT patients, eleven women and men experienced a further course of Covid-19 disease. In none of the patients did the anti-PF4 antibodies rise again after Covid-19. None of them developed new thrombocytopenia or new thrombosis," emphasized the Andreas Greinacher. “If both immune responses were linked, VITT survivors with Covid-19 disease would have to show an increase in anti-PF4 antibodies, possibly even re-triggering thrombocytopenia and thrombosis. However, that doesn't happen. Corroborating previous laboratory-based studies, this is now definite scientific evidence based on human data that rules out a connection between the anti-SARS-CoV-2 and the anti-PF4 immune response.”
    It is thus clear that the rare thrombotic diseases are solely a problem of the composition of the vaccines based on adenovirus vectors, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, which might be eliminated by modifying the vaccines.

    "Our finding that Covid-19 does not reactivate anti-PF4 antibodies and cause thrombosis in VITT patients provides further insight into the origin, development and treatment of VITT and facilitates decision-making regarding further Covid-19 vaccination with an mRNA vaccine,” emphasized the Greifswald scientist.

    Wissenschaftliche Ansprechpartner:

    Prof. Dr. med. Andreas Greinacher
    T +49 3834 86-54 79


    NEJM, New England Journal Medicine
    SARS-CoV-2 infection in patients with a history of VITT
    publ. Monday, June 27, 2022


    Dr. Linda Schönborn und Prof. Dr. Andreas Greinacher.
    Dr. Linda Schönborn und Prof. Dr. Andreas Greinacher.
    Photo: Marten Kählert
    Photo: Marten Kählert

    Merkmale dieser Pressemitteilung:
    Journalisten, Wissenschaftler
    Biologie, Medizin
    Forschungsergebnisse, Wissenschaftliche Publikationen


    Dr. Linda Schönborn und Prof. Dr. Andreas Greinacher.

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