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Two more deaths linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine in Australia

This article was published on
July 22, 2021

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The Therapeutic Goods Administration has been notified of two more fatal cases of the rare blood clotting disorder related to AstraZeneca's COVID-19 jab. The 44-year-old man from Tasmania and 48-year-old woman from Victoria were reported as probable thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) cases last week. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said yesterday that he has been making a “constant appeal” to vaccine advisory group ATAGI to change its advice to recommend the AstraZeneca jab to younger Australians. ATAGI's co-chair Christopher Blyth has previously said under 40s should only be considering getting AstraZeneca in "pressing circumstances".

The Therapeutic Goods Administration has been notified of two more fatal cases of the rare blood clotting disorder related to AstraZeneca's COVID-19 jab. The 44-year-old man from Tasmania and 48-year-old woman from Victoria were reported as probable thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) cases last week. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said yesterday that he has been making a “constant appeal” to vaccine advisory group ATAGI to change its advice to recommend the AstraZeneca jab to younger Australians. ATAGI's co-chair Christopher Blyth has previously said under 40s should only be considering getting AstraZeneca in "pressing circumstances".

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Expert Comments: 

Professor Raina MacIntyre

We published a risk analysis for people under 60 years in Australia, which shows the benefits clearly outweigh the risk in people over 60, but may not do so in people under 60 years.

Professor Robert Booy

The AZ vaccine has proven around the world to be a highly effective and safe vaccine.

However the occurrence of five deaths due to the clotting syndrome TTS, including two recent cases aged in their 40s, has led us at the Immunisation Coalition to support the position of ATAGI that the A/Z vaccine should be given to people aged 60 and above; and used only after consultation for younger adults in places where COVID-19 is widely spreading.

Now that we have in Australia a reliable supply of at least one million Pfizer doses per week, there is an alternative. An abundance of caution should be observed.

Dr Roger Lord

The recent report of two more fatal cases of thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS), a rare blood clotting disorder associated with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, will further fuel vaccine hesitancy in the younger community.

This is further compounded by the political entanglements associated with medical advice provided by ATAGI and the Prime Minister’s desperate attempt to challenge these recommendations.

If the PM wishes to overrule the expert recommendations on the basis of the increased risk of COVID-19 transmission of the Delta variant then he should make this decision independently.

He cannot realistically expect ATAGI to alter its recommendations on which age group should receive the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The approach currently appears to be at a political stalemate and may require the public to make an informed decision for themselves.

The risk of developing the rare TTS if vaccinated with AstraZeneca is far less than the serious illness and hospitalisation likely if an individual remains unvaccinated.

The increasing cases of COVID-19 Delta variant in NSW and Victoria mean a significant increase in risk of infection.

Vaccination is the key to lower transmission and severe illness caused by this variant.

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