/ 18 June 2021

Vaccine advice puts more pressure on Pfizer supply

Health officials have increased the recommended age for AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine from 50yo to 60yo following new expert advice on the risk of dangerous but rare blood clots. The Pfizer vaccine is now the preferred jab for those under 60yo, and Health Minister Greg Hunt yesterday said it will be “immediately” available for 40-59yos. But experts say the 815,000 Aussies in the affected age bracket who have had their first dose of AstraZeneca without side effects “should feel very confident” to get their 2nd.

SO BLOOD CLOTS AGAIN, EH?
Yeah. There had been calls for the official advice to be reviewed after a 52yo woman died last week when she became the 2nd to succumb to blood clots linked to the vaccine. Officials responded, saying AstraZeneca remained the vaccine of choice for those older than 50yo. But yesterday, Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said new information showed 12 new cases of a “rare but sometimes very serious clotting condition” linked to AstraZeneca in the past week. In Oz, 60 people have developed the clotting disorder out of more than 3.8 million AstraZeneca doses administered. Minister Hunt yesterday said it was a “conservative position”, but Australia is on track to offer every eligible person a vaccine this year.

AND WHAT’S THE LATEST ON NEW COVID CASES?
The outbreak in Sydney’s eastern suburbs has grown to 4 cases, and police are investigating whether the first case, an unvaccinated 60yo limo driver who came into contact with international flight crew, has breached health orders. The man’s infection was yesterday confirmed to be the Delta variant – the highly contagious strain first detected in India, and in this case, it’s come via the US. His wife has since tested positive, and a 70yo woman who had attended a venue the couple had visited caught the virus. A man in Sydney’s northwest has also tested positive, but officials are looking into whether that’s correct. The cases haven’t prompted the reintroduction of restrictions in Sydney, but some states have been quick to shut borders to anyone who has visited ‘high risk’ areas of Sydney.

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