The government has made a dramatic difference in the deployment of AstraZeneca after many people in Europe developed deadly blood clots.
Australia will not vaccinate most people under the age of 50 with the AstraZeneca vaccine after a “rare but serious risk” of a deadly blood clot has been identified, the prime minister said tonight.
Whenever possible, children under the age of 50 should only be vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine.
The change in advice follows the many blood clots that have occurred in a small number of young people after vaccination.
“Pfizer vaccine use is preferred over AstraZeneca vaccine in adults under the age of 50 who have not received the first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine,” Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly said at a snap press conference. ..
He said the decision was based on an increased risk of age-related complications from COVID-19 and a “potentially low risk” of rare blood clots in the elderly.
Professor Kelly said deadly blood clotting is a “very rare event.”
“Usually within 4-10 days after vaccination, it seems to be about 4-6 doses per million doses of vaccine. However, it is serious and can cause up to 25 percent mortality. “
He said the AstraZeneca vaccine should only be given to adults under the age of 50, whose benefits clearly outweigh the risks of the individual’s situation.
This change was made after a rush review by the Australian Immunization Technology Advisory Group (ATAGI), which advises on Vaccine Strategy and Therapeutic Goods Authority (TGA).
In a statement, AstraZeneca “respected” government decisions and stated that coagulation events were rare.
“Patient safety remains AstraZeneca’s top priority. Today, tens of millions of people around the world receive our vaccine. Extensive data show its effectiveness and this public health We are reaffirming the role that vaccines can play in times of crisis.
“Our efforts to provide safe and effective vaccines without benefit during a pandemic will continue to play an important role in addressing the current global health emergency caused by COVID-19. Let’s do it. “
This means that the local manufacturer CSL will make significant changes to the Australian vaccine deployment, which has relied heavily on the British and Swedish jabs produced in Melbourne.
The only other vaccine Australia has ever used must be imported from the US company Pfizer.
Professor Kelly said that many people currently vaccinated with jabs are over the age of 50, so the current stage of vaccine deployment will continue with the AZ vaccine. Those who have already taken the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine without serious side effects are safe to take the second dose, he said.
“It is very important that people in these priority groups get vaccinated as soon as possible, and AstraZeneca is completely safe for people in those older groups,” he said.
Dr. Brendan Murphy, director of health, said the AstraZeneca vaccine “will be a very important vaccine for vaccination of a significant proportion of the population.”
PM: “rare but serious” side effects
The ATAGI review was conducted after revised advice on vaccines from European authorities, where a small number of people suffer from blood clots after vaccination.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the AstraZeneca vaccine showed a “rare but serious risk”.
Indeed, Pfizer vaccines carry the risk of anaphylaxis.
“With vaccines, this happens. This is not a new process. Sometimes there is a problem with the vaccine that occurs and if ATAGI is considering other drug or vaccine issues, this is the same process,” he said. Told.
Professor Kelly was asked why the AstraZeneca vaccine was restricted when contraceptives were much more likely to cause blood clots, and millions of people took it. He said the important fact was that there was an alternative.
“Currently there are alternatives for Pfizer. This is a very cautious approach.”
Who will get the AstraZeneca vaccine?
Professor Kelly said there are four recommendations from ATAGI.
First, Pfizer was preferred over AstraZeneca for those under the age of 50. This is based on the reduced risk of vaccines over the age of 50 and the increased risk of COVID-19 in those age groups.
Second, vaccination providers should only administer AstraZeneca to adults under the age of 50 whose benefits clearly outweigh the risks of their individual situation.
Third, those who receive the first dose of COVID-19 AstraZeneca without serious adverse events can safely receive the second dose. This includes adults under the age of 50.
Finally, the Ministry of Health develops and refines information on the risks and benefits of the AZ vaccine, which is provided at night and in the morning.
Australia is currently enrolled in 53.8 million AstraZeneca jabs, most of which are manufactured in Melbourne. Approximately 20 million doses of Pfizer have been ordered, sufficient for 10 million people and have been administered 1 million doses so far.
Novavax, a US company, plans to provide 51 million doses of vaccine from mid-2021. However, clinical trials have not yet been completed.
Dr. Murphy said the government is working with Pfizer “almost every day” to see when supplies can be increased.
“I am confident that Pfizer’s supply will improve in the near future.”
Australia follows Europe
The European Drug Safety Commission has urged countries to continue using the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine overnight for all age groups, but abnormal blood clots should be listed as a very rare side effect. I issued a warning.
The EMA emphasized that the benefits of the COVID-19 jab continue to outweigh the risks. The World Health Organization said in late March that the risk was very low and that taking oral contraceptives was more risky.
Despite its discovery that the vaccine is safe and the benefits outweigh the risks, the UK moved swiftly overnight to declare Do not inoculate AstraZeneca vaccine under the age of 30 if alternatives are available..
Professor Jonathan Vantam, Deputy Chief Medical Officer in the United Kingdom, said the risk / benefit balance of AZ vaccines in young people is subtly balanced because they are less likely to die of COVID than older people. I did. Not because the vaccine is unsafe or likely to cause blood clots in young people.
Talk in “This morning, Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said the AstraZeneca vaccine was more likely to be associated with blood clots.
“This potential link is still possible, but it seems likely between the AstraZeneca vaccine in certain people and this very rare blood clotting event,” he said. It was.
“But, very importantly, we need to be aware that this is a very rare event. Look for advice, specific advice from the panel of medical professionals we are meeting today.”
– Additional report by Samantha Maiden.