'Unanimous agreement': Australia's medical experts say no evidence of AstraZeneca blood clot issue

The Health Minister moved to reassure his colleagues about the vaccine rollout. Picture: Elesa Kurtz
The Health Minister moved to reassure his colleagues about the vaccine rollout. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Australia's medical regulator, peak advisory group on vaccines and the Chief Medical Officer are "all in unanimous agreement" that Australia's vaccine rollout should continue with the AstraZeneca vaccine, and there is no evidence it is linked to blood clots.

Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly has reassured Australians that despite suspensions in the vaccine rollout in some European countries, there is no reason to make the same decision locally.

"Safety is our first priority," Professor Kelly said.

"In any large vaccine rollout we do expect to see unusual events and we monitor very closely and carefully for those, but this does not mean that an event that happens after vaccination has been given is indeed due to that vaccine.

"We do always take it seriously, we do investigate, but in this situation, I can absolutely say I remain confident in the AstraZeneca vaccine, that's it's safe, and that there is at this point no evidence it causes blood clots."

The Therapeutic Goods Administration, Australia's regulator, and the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Vaccines, have also backed the AstraZeneca vaccine.

More than 50 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have been ordered by the federal government, and it is set to be the main plank of Australia's vaccine rollout.

Health Minister Greg Hunt told Parliament he disagreed with the call to pause the rollout based on decisions in Europe.

"The government clearly, unequivocally and absolutely supports the AstraZeneca rollout - clearly, unequivocally and absolutely," he said.

Germany, Italy and France have joined Ireland, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands in suspending their rollout of the vaccine, even though the European Union's medicines regulator has not recommended it be paused.

The European countries point to a handful of cases of people developing blood clots after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine, but the European regulator says the rate is no different to that in the normal population.

"Events involving blood clots, some with unusual features such as low numbers of platelets, have occurred in a very small number of people who received the vaccine," a statement from the European Medicines Agency said on Monday.

"Many thousands of people develop blood clots annually in the EU for different reasons. The number of thromboembolic events overall in vaccinated people seems not to be higher than that seen in the general population."

Australia has observer status with the EU's regulator, Mr Hunt told government MPs earlier on Tuesday, meaning the Therapeutic Goods Administration can see evidence when it is collected. The European Medicines Agency is investigating the incidents.

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Former Liberal MP Craig Kelly and Nationals Senator Matt Canavan called for Australia to pause its own rollout earlier on Tuesday, citing the decisions made in Europe.

Professor Kelly spoke to British and European medicine regulators on Sunday night.

"As noted by the European Medicines Agency, the action taken by several European countries is a precautionary measure so that a full investigation can be rapidly conducted," he said.

He said Australia had strong and clear protocols around reporting adverse reactions.

WHO spokeswoman Dr Margaret Harris said AstraZeneca findings would be released soon, but a causal relationship to blood clots had not been shown.

"The panel had taken the position that the jab should continue to be administered, while an investigation of cases of these thrombo-embolic events is ongoing," she said.

  • with AAP

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This story 'Unanimous agreement': Australia's medical experts say no evidence of AstraZeneca blood clot issue first appeared on The Canberra Times.