Australia to hold urgent meetings after EU confirms ‘rare’ link between AstraZeneca jab and blood clots

Australia’s drug regulators are holding urgent meetings after European authorities confirmed a link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots.

The United Kingdom will offer people aged under 30 an alternative vaccine due to the blood clot risk.

The European Medicines Agency has not made a specific recommendation, but found women and people under 60 were at a higher risk of developing the rare side effect.

The advice could pose a significant threat to Australia’s vaccine strategy, given most Australians are set to receive the AstraZeneca jab.

Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said Australian regulators were considering the findings.

“The recommendations will be brought to the table today and look at the Australian context,” he said on Thursday.

“The AstraZeneca vaccine is effective and very safe for most people. There is this extremely rare event which appears to be associated with that particular vaccine in some people – four per million.

“The benefit is that the vaccines are very effective at preventing COVID illness and can be severe and lead to deaths, particularly in older people.”

The federal government has asked its immunisation advisory group and the national medicine regulator to review the recommendations.

The findings will also be discussed among state and federal health ministers and at the next meeting of national cabinet on Friday.

Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said the advice on AstraZeneca highlighted the danger in Australia failing to secure vaccine deals with other suppliers.

Mr Albanese said the government had a full year to prepare for the vaccine rollout.

“The federal government should have secured more deals. There is no deal for Moderna. There is no deal for Johnson and Johnson,” the Labor leader told reporters.

He said those vaccines were being rolled out in America and the UK.

“Scott Morrison’s always out there happy to blow his trumpet about how everything is going. Australians are worried. Australians deserve better than a ‘She’ll be right mate’ approach,” Mr Albanese said.

Nationals senator Matt Canavan also believes the government should be securing more vaccine deals.

“We need to get more of other types of COVID vaccines so we can offer a choice just like the UK are doing for young people,” he said.

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