Astrazeneca Stock – AstraZeneca vaccine side-effects low as UK, Europe advice reviewed
The Prime Minister said he would not pre-empt any decision from the Therapeutic Goods Administration and the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, and so far Australia’s vaccine rollout would continue as planned.
“My advice at this point, but that’s obviously subject to what ATAGI might say later in the day, [is] there is nothing to suggest at this stage that there would be any change,” he said on Thursday morning.
Regardless of whether the regulator changes its advice, Mr Morrison said it was important to know the risk of developing venous thromboembolism was much lower following the AstraZeneca vaccine than the risk of death from COVID-19.
“Let’s note that in the UK, the advice is that some 6000 people’s lives have already been saved by this very vaccine. So we need to consider the positive benefits,” he said.
From UK data, the risk of venous thromboembolism following the vaccine was about one to five per million people.
“To put that in some sort of perspective, the combined oral contraceptive pill, that can include adverse side effects of venous thromboembolism – that’s seven to 10 per 10,000,” Mr Morrison said.
“So what ATAGI will be doing is they’ll be looking at that evidence and they, of course, will be weighing that against the very positive benefits of the vaccine program and then they’ll be providing further advice,” he said.
A federal government spokesperson said the expert groups were meeting on Thursday to discuss the latest overseas updates and evidence.
“The government has asked ATAGI and the TGA to immediately consider and advise on the latest vaccination findings out of Europe and the UK,” the spokesperson said.
“That advice will be provided to the Commonwealth government for immediate consideration.”
The advice will be shared with the expert medical panel, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, which is comprised of all state and territory chief health officers and led by federal Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly.
Mr Morrison said he expected to receive an update later on Thursday evening. The matter will also be discussed in national cabinet on Friday and in meetings with state and territory health ministers, he said.
Professor Kelly told the ABC on Thursday morning there were so few cases of the rare clotting disorder it was “hard to make conclusions”.
He said overseas advice regarding younger people and women being at higher risk would be brought to the table on Thursday and looked at in the Australian context.
The government will be looking to reassure people that the AstraZeneca vaccine is “very effective and extremely safe for most people”, the Chief Medical Officer said.
“But there is this rare event that appears to be linked with that particular vaccine and people need to be aware of that.”
Labor leader Anthony Albanese said he was confident in Australia’s medical experts, but this issue showed that the country should have secured more vaccine deals.
“There is no deal for Moderna. There is no deal for Johnson and Johnson. These are vaccines that are being rolled out around the world, in North America and in the United Kingdom,” he said on Thursday morning.
“It’s not good enough that Australia has not been prepared. They’ve had a long time. They’ve had a year to be prepared. They said that we were at the front of the queue and that just wasn’t true.”
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Rachel Clun is a federal political reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, covering health.
Sarah McPhee is a breaking news reporter with The Sydney Morning Herald.