Australia’s most populous state suspends AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine

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Australia’s most populous state said on Friday it has temporarily suspended the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine following updated advice from the federal government.

New South Wales said inoculations using the AstraZeneca vaccine will be paused for a few hours while it updates its advice to patients allowing them to give informed consent.

Meanwhile, Australia is holding a national cabinet meeting on Friday to devise a new COVID-19 vaccination programme after abruptly changing policy and recommending people under 50 take the Pfizer vaccine not AstraZeneca due to the risks of blood clots.

The move sees Australia joining countries around the world which have put restrictions on one of the most widely accessible vaccines against the coronavirus over concern about links to very rare blood clots. Australia will now seek tens of millions more doses of Pfizer’s product.

Plans to vaccinate Australia’s 25 million population by the end of October would be pushed back, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday in announcing the change.

AstraZeneca said in a statement that it respected the Australian decision and was working with regulators around the world “to understand the individual cases, epidemiology and possible mechanisms that could explain these extremely rare events”.

CSL said it remained committed to meeting its contracted arrangements with Australia and AstraZeneca to make the vaccine “which remains critical for the protection of our most vulnerable populations”.

Main Photo: A view of a vial of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine held by a healthcare worker inside of the Royal Exhibition Centre in Melbourne, Australia. EPA-EFE/JAMES ROSS

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