Australia and Canada to continue using AstraZeneca vaccine, say no evidence of blood clots

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Australia said on Friday it will continue to roll-out AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine as there was no evidence of a link to blood clots, despite some European countries suspending its use.

Canada on Thursday said the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is safe after Denmark and Norway temporarily suspended its use amid reports that blood clots had formed in some who had received the shot.

“Health Canada is aware of reports of adverse events in Europe following immunization with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, and would like to reassure Canadians that the benefits of the vaccine continue to outweigh its risks,” the health department said in a statement.

“At this time, there is no indication that the vaccine caused these events,” it said.

Canada received 500,000 AstraZeneca doses made at the Serum Institute of India last week, and expects to get 1.5 million more in by May.

“To date, no adverse events related to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine… have been reported to Health Canada or the Public Health Agency of Canada,” the statement said.

Denmark, Norway and Iceland on Thursday suspended the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine following reports of the formation of blood clots in some people who had been vaccinated.

Australia’s government said that while its pharmaceutical regulator was monitoring those cases, there would be no pause in the roll-out of the vaccine.

Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said there is no evidence to suggest the vaccine caused blood clots.

“We do take them seriously and investigate,” Kelly said in an emailed statement, referring to the reports of blood clots.

Australia has secured about 54 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which Health Secretary Brendan Murphy this week described as the “the workforce vaccine for Australia”, with 50 million to be locally produced.

Australia’s vaccination roll-out has only just begun, but the conservative government is already under pressure over the speed of the COVID-19 inoculation programme.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison had said Australia would vaccinate all adults by the end of October. Instead, all adult Australians wanting a COVID-19 vaccine will receive their first dose by October, he said on Friday.

So far only around 150,000 people have been vaccinated, though Australia is under less pressure than other countries, as it has not recorded any locally COVID cases in nearly two weeks.

Australia has reported just over 29,000 COVID-19 cases and 909 deaths since the pandemic began, far fewer than many developed countries, due international border closures, lockdowns and strict social distancing rules.

Main Photo: A vial doses of the Oxford Astra-Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine . EPA-EFE/CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON

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