| 25 February 2024, Sunday |

Australia to continue using AstraZeneca vaccine despite Europe pause

Australia has no plans to halt the use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, authorities announced on Tuesday, even though several European countries paused giving the vaccine after reports of potential serious side-effects.

Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Cyprus joined several other European nations on Monday in temporarily suspending inoculations with AstraZeneca doses after reports of isolated cases of bleeding, blood clots and low platelet count in some of the nations.

“While the European Medicines Agency is investigating these events, it has reinforced its view that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is successful in protecting against COVID-19 and should continue to be used in the rollout,” Australia Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said in an emailed statement.

Kelly said the government remained confident in the vaccine as there was currently no evidence that it caused blood clots though the side-effects reported would be investigated as a “precautionary measure”.

Some other countries, including the United Kingdom and Poland, continue to use the vaccine.

On Sunday, AstraZeneca said a review of at least 17 million people inoculated with its vaccine in the European Union and the UK showed no evidence of an increased risk of blood clots.

The majority of Australia’s 25 million people will be administered the AstraZeneca vaccine and authorities have secured around 54 million shots, with 50 million to be produced locally from the end of March.

Australia kicked off its nationwide immunization drive last month, much later than many other countries, and started first inoculations using the AstraZeneca vaccine last week.

New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, reported no COVID-19 cases on Tuesday after recording its first local case in nearly 2 months a day earlier. Queensland state, which reported a new case on Saturday, reported zero infections for the third straight day.

Australia has recorded over 29,100 cases and 909 deaths since the outbreak of the global pandemic.

  • Reuters