In March 2021, exactly two years ago, when the number of Corona infections in Germany is increasing rapidly, hairdressers are still allowed to open again and the vaccination campaign is stuttering, Sascha Schwartz can hardly wait for his vaccination appointment. Like so many Germans, he wants to give back a piece of freedom with the spade and make his small contribution to getting the pandemic under control. He was 30 years old at the time, and he describes Sascha Schwartz from back then like this: sporty and active, always in a good mood, a person who likes to dance at as many weddings as possible.
Until March 25, 2021 and vaccination with Astra Zeneca. Since then, nothing has been the same for Sascha Schwartz as it was before. He says: “I have never felt such blatant helplessness and powerlessness as I have in the last two years. I feel trapped in my own body and have the feeling that I no longer exist.”
What begins on the same day with a high fever, dizziness and headache expands into a never-ending story of suffering. The man from Cologne made a list, he came up with a whopping 96 symptoms in the two years. The worst thing is the “brainfog”, the brain fog that robs him of all concentration. Since then, reading a book has been unthinkable for him. “You switch on as if on autopilot. This feeling of aliveness has been lost. Everything seems to be in a twilight state, as if the stimuli are no longer reaching the brain and you have electricity in your head.”
“I didn’t know such a state of exhaustion before the vaccination” – Sascha Schwartz
A second vaccination in June 2021 with BioNTech’s vaccine and the hope that this will regulate the symptoms only makes things worse. When Schwartz, who professionally takes care of mentally ill and disabled people, takes them on a trip to an amusement park a short time later, he collapses from the sensory overload. After that, Schwartz lay in bed completely exhausted for weeks and has been on sick leave ever since. He has to do a tour of his shared apartment while lying down, huddled on the floor in the hallway.
“It took me six months to find an immunologist who takes me and my symptoms seriously, and that’s when I burst into tears in the waiting room,” says Schwartz. “Previously it was always said that you are psychosomatic, the vaccination is safe, that cannot be, even though I have described the connection and that I am neither depressed nor anything else.”
Paul-Ehrlich-Institut gives numbers of suspected cases
Schwartz sees himself as a post-vac (“after vaccination”) victim. According to the Infection Protection Act, vaccination damage is “the health and economic consequence of damage to health caused by the vaccination that goes beyond the usual extent of a vaccination reaction”. When asked by DW, the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut, the German Federal Institute for Vaccines and Biomedicines, gave these figures:
A total of 333,492 suspected cases of side effects and 50,833 suspected cases of serious side effects have been reported to the institute since the start of the vaccination campaign up to and including October 31, 2022 after primary immunization plus booster vaccinations. The reporting rate was 1.78 per 1000 vaccine doses for all individual suspected case reports and 0.27 per 1000 vaccine doses for serious individual suspected case reports.
Schwartz is one of them. The University Hospital in Marburg, which set up a post-vac outpatient clinic, finally diagnosed him with hyperinflammation of the immune system as a result of the vaccination. It is the long-awaited ticket to finally get out of the stigmatization that the complaints are only psychosomatic. But to this day no therapy has worked, twelve weeks in psychiatry have been just as unsuccessful as rehabilitation that focuses on activation.
“The other day I was wheeling my bike into a supermarket, crazy stuff like that. When it’s bad I can just stay in bed and stare at the ceiling. When I wake up in the morning, my body tells me what my day is going to be like,” so Schwartz. “I’m doing a French course once a week now, but after that I have to lie down first.”
Self-help group with dozens of people affected
Schwartz does not want to submit to his fate, he has founded a self-help group for people in Cologne and the surrounding area who have had serious health problems after a corona vaccination. The group has now grown to 70 people, and those affected meet every third Wednesday of the month and exchange ideas. The ones who can come. Because for many this is impossible, they are lying in bed, says Sascha Schwartz.
But there is still a great lack of understanding for post-vac patients in society. “If we post something publicly, we get a lot of hate messages, like: ‘It’s your own fault, you got vaccinated, you have to reckon with that.’ Or: ‘What you write isn’t true at all,'” says Schwartz, “one is very often pigeonholed as a lateral thinker, that’s crazy!”
In the next few days, his entitlement to sick pay will expire, and soon Schwartz will have to live on unemployment benefits. So far he has not received a cent in compensation from the state. Because he was vaccinated by the employer, Schwartz is in contact with the trade association. Sascha Schwartz has accumulated 4000 euros in debt in the two years. The health insurance company rejected the application for a blood wash, for which he had a doctor’s recommendation. It would cost 15,000 euros.
“It’s something we also need to bring where we have a duty” – Karl Lauterbach on Post-Vac Aid
Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach now wants to better help people with long-term consequences of a corona infection or vaccination, vaccination damage should be recognized more quickly. He and his ministry would use a program to investigate the consequences of Long Covid and Post-Vac, i.e. vaccine damage, and improve care for those affected. If you don’t want to rely on that, you might end up with Tobias Ulbrich.
First civil lawsuits by victims of vaccinations
His Düsseldorf law firm specializes in the legal processing of vaccination damage and its consequences. The lawyer represents 750 people and has filed 130 lawsuits against BioNTech and Moderna. Ulbrich complains that the federal government has not sufficiently informed the population about the side effects and deliberately downplays serious side effects in public. Target of criticism: Health Minister Karl Lauterbach. “We have a federal minister who for some time called the vaccination free of side effects.”
On April 28, the first civil lawsuit against BioNtech will be heard in Frankfurt am Main – a 57-year-old woman is suing for damages. She claims to have suffered heart damage from the vaccination. Further court proceedings in Frankenthal, Düsseldorf and Munich follow. Tobias Ulbrich’s phone doesn’t stand still, he and his team have already given over 3,000 initial consultations.
“Civil law claims are fundamentally against the manufacturer. And ultimately it is the manufacturer who can request release from liability, i.e. repayment by the Federal Republic of Germany. From a purely economic point of view, we have the Federal Republic of Germany as our opponent and then on paper the vaccine manufacturer.”
“Many medical practices say there is no vaccine damage because they don’t have time for reports” – Tobias Ulbrich
Background: In the contract with the EU Commission, the vaccine manufacturers were exempted from any liability, which states: “Therefore, each participating member state compensates the contractor and holds him harmless with regard to all liabilities incurred.” This means that Germany undertakes to pay court and legal fees, damages and pain and suffering for those injured by vaccination and not Moderna or BioNTech.
Ulbrich is optimistic that his clients will get justice in court, so that they can also pay the horrendous medical costs. “We are examining the prospects of success of the lawsuit very carefully before we devote ourselves to asserting it. Against this background, I hope that the judges will not be able to come to any different conclusions than we can.”
“Post-Vac patients are not taken seriously”
If you want to know how people with post-vac syndrome in Germany are doing at the moment, you have to talk to Jördis Frommhold. The doctor for internal medicine and pneumology is the German luminary for long-Covid diseases, she has treated thousands of sufferers since the pandemic began three years ago.
Now more and more patients with side effects after vaccination are coming to her. She has just treated a 35-year-old man who complains of breathing difficulties and complete exhaustion after the second vaccination. Frommhold says: “The patients with post-vac syndrome are really constantly pushed into this corner as denials and conspiracy theorists. They are not taken seriously at all.”
“Long Covid and Post-Vac cannot be lumped together, but similar structures can be used” – Jördis Frommhold
The doctor observes that children and adolescents are also affected. A twelve-year-old girl in her treatment developed massive cognitive impairments after a booster vaccination. Ultimately, history is repeating itself in Germany: There is hardly any acceptance for those affected – as in the beginning with the long-Covid patients.
“It’s a pity that we didn’t learn from it. That you don’t say to everything that you don’t quite understand at first glance: ‘That doesn’t exist’. That’s definitely the wrong approach,” says Frommhold . “If people get a vaccination with the adapted Omicron vaccine at 9 a.m. and have fire-red, inflamed ears at 8 p.m., they are told: ‘That can’t be, it’s not related’.”
It is by no means the case that her post-vac patients quarreled with the decision to get vaccinated. Most of them told her they wanted the injection and made their own decisions. But: Germany demanded at the time of the vaccination campaign to show solidarity with the weakest in society. Solidarity that is now missing for those who have been injured by the vaccination. Many told her, so Frommhold: “I would like to be recognized with my problem and get help like everyone else.”
In hindsight, should Germany perhaps have used a different vaccination strategy? No, emphasizes Jördis Frommhold, the primary goal was to bring the corona pandemic to an end and to prevent even the most difficult courses. One should not forget that the intensive care units were full and many deaths could have been prevented, so it was important that many people had been vaccinated. Unfortunately, after every vaccination you also have the risk of vaccination side effects.
“That’s nothing special now. If we now simply have a very, very large number of vaccinated doses, then we also have a high absolute number of patients with vaccination side effects, even if the percentages are low. But you have to take care of these people. ”