/ 09 April 2021

Evening vaccine advice delivers big change

Just as Australia hits the 1 million mark of COVID vaccines administered, PM Scott Morrison last night fronted the media to say he’d received advice that adults aged under 50yo who have not already received their first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine should be given the Pfizer vaccine going forward. The AstraZeneca vaccine should only be given to those aged under 50yo where the benefit of being immunised against the coronavirus “clearly outweighs the risk for that individual’s circumstances.” It’s not a directive, he said, but it’s what the government’s expert vaccine advisory body has recommended.

Yep. Yesterday, the European Medicines Agency said there is the possibility of patients developing very rare cases of blood clots within two weeks of vaccination with the AstraZeneca jab, and our government tasked its official advisers to look at it. There have been reports of a slightly higher incidence of clots reported in younger adult age groups in the range of 4-6 cases per million vaccine recipients. “To put that in some sort of perspective, the combined oral contraceptive pill – that can include adverse side effects [of blood clots] – that’s 7-to-10 per 10,000.” But the cases of blood clots after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine have shown a 25% death rate, and advice from the Aussie experts is to target its rollout to those aged 50yo and over.

Good question – and watch this space… Last night, Morrison said there will “be a recalibration” to “take into account the decision the government has taken tonight” – but it looks like plans to have all willing Aussie receive at least one dose of a vaccine by October are dashed. The Pfizer-produced vaccine is in circulation, and there will need to be a process of “prioritisation”, and the government will now have to “work through the logistics of that,” Morrison said. Which is a good time to note that Australia has done deals with 4 vaccine producers for almost 150 million doses at the cost of $3.3 billion – and the AstraZeneca vaccine makes up 53.8 million of those. Labor leader Anthony Albanese yesterday said that the episode has shown “the Federal Government should have secured more deals” with other vaccine producers. The National Cabinet is meeting today where this will be the top agenda item.

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