Melbourne (Reuters)-Health officials said on Saturday that Australia will continue to cooperate with AstraZeneca PLC on the vaccination program after the blood clotting incident has raised concerns about the safety of the vaccine.
A 44-year-old man was taken to a Melbourne hospital a few days after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine and suffered from severe thrombosis, which prevents blood from flowing through the circulatory system.
A team composed of the Regulatory Agency of the Drug Administration (TGA) and the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (ATAGI) met on Friday night and early Saturday to discuss further recommendations regarding AstraZeneca̵
Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Michael Kidd, said in a television briefing on Saturday afternoon: “ATAGI or TGA have not yet notified us to suspend the launch of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Australia.”
Kidd said, however, that blood clotting cases are “probably” related to the vaccine.
Kidd said: “The risk of serious side effects is still low, but safety is paramount. This is why TAGI and TGA continue to conduct due diligence on this case,” he added, adding that a further announcement will be made next week.
On Thursday, the UK confirmed that 30 rare blood clots had occurred after the use of the vaccine. After similar reports, some countries including Canada, France, Germany and Spain restricted its use.
The possible complications caused by the launch of the AstraZeneca vaccine may further delay Australia’s already delayed vaccination work.
Australia launched a mass vaccination for its 25 million people in February. Since CSL Ltd has produced 50 million doses of vaccines domestically, most of the vaccines are expected to be vaccinated against Oxford University/University of AstraZeneca.
However, the country was in trouble and was unable to implement the plan. As the states and the federal government were responsible for the matter, they failed to achieve the March target of about 3.3 million doses.
These troubles stemmed from a year of great success in containing the virus. Through rapid lockdown, border closure and fast tracking, the coronavirus infection was limited to less than 29,300 cases, resulting in 909 COVID-19 deaths.
Health officials said that in Queensland, at the center of the most recent small-scale coronavirus outbreak, a new infection was recorded on Saturday, but since the victim has been quarantined for several days, there is little risk to the public.
(Global Vaccination Tracker: here)
(Interactive graphics to track the global spread of the coronavirus: here)
Reporting by Lidia Kelly; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and William Mallard