MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australia will continue its inoculation program with AstraZeneca PLC, health officials said on Saturday after a blood clotting case raised concerns about the safety of the vaccine.
A 44-year-old man was admitted to a Melbourne hospital with a clot, days after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine, suffering from severe thrombosis, a condition that interferes with normal blood flow through the bloodstream.
The Therapeutic Goods Authority (TGA) regulator and panel, the Australian Technical Committee for Immunization (ATAGI), met late Friday and early Saturday to discuss further advice on the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“Currently, ATAGI or TGA have not advised us to stop the release of AstraZeneca in Australia,”
However, Kidd said the case of a blood clot was “probably” related to the vaccine.
“The risks of serious side effects remain very low, but safety is paramount and therefore TAGI and TGA continue to carry out a proper investigation into this case,” Kidd said, adding that the next reports would come next week.
On Thursday, the UK identified 30 cases of rare blood clot events after using the vaccine. Several countries, including Canada, France, Germany and Spain, have restricted its use following similar reports.
Possible complications with the AstraZeneca vaccine may further slow down the already slow drive in Australia.
Australia launched mass vaccinations for its 25 million people in February, with the most expected to receive the vaccine from the University of Oxford / AstraZeneca, as 50 million doses are produced domestically by CSL Ltd.
However, the country has had trouble launching the program, missing the March target of about 3.3 million doses as the states and the federal government argue over guilt.
The problems followed a year of significant success in curbing the virus, with rapid blocking, border closure and rapid follow-up, limiting coronavirus infections to just under 29,300 infections, with 909 deaths from COVID-19.
On Saturday, Queensland, the epicenter of the most recent small outbreak of coronavirus, registered a new infection, health officials said, but risks to the public were minimal as the victim had been in isolation for days.
(Global vaccination follow-up: here)
(Interactive graphical tracking of global coronavirus distribution: here)
Report by Lydia Kelly; Edited by Clarence Fernandez and William Mallard