The Australian medicines regulator has recommended that the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine is only used in those aged 60 years and over amid further reports of blood clotting following vaccination, as well as reports of a link between the AZ vaccine and an illness that can leave patients paralysed.
Five out of the 12 confirmed and probable new cases of blood clotting following vaccination are actually in people over the age of 60, according to the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). A further four cases are in people less than five years away from turning 60. All remaining cases are in people above the age of 50.
The Guardian has more.
Pfizer will be the preferred vaccine for eligible people under 60 following a recommendation from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI). However, people who have had their first shot of AstraZeneca will be advised to have their second shot of the same vaccine.
The Health Minister, Greg Hunt, said the opening of Pfizer to people aged 50 to 59 would mean that the 2.1 million people in this cohort who have yet to have the AstraZeneca shot will receive the Pfizer vaccine instead.
The TGA reported on Thursday there were a further 12 reports of blood clots and low blood platelets assessed to be confirmed or probable cases of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine in the past week.
The new cases include three confirmed in 55 and 65 year-old women from Victoria and a 53 year-old woman from NSW. The nine new probable cases include: a 54 year-old man from the Northern Territory, a 65 year-old woman from Tasmania, 50 and 56 year old men and a 69 year-old woman from Victoria, a 58 year-old woman from South Australia, 59 and 80 year-old men from Queensland, and a 67 year-old woman from NSW.
It takes the total of Australian reports of TTS following the AstraZeneca vaccine to 37 confirmed and 23 probable.
The estimated risk of TTS following the first dose is 3.1 per 100,000 for people under 50, 2.7 for people between 50 and 59, 1.4 for people between 60 and 69, 1.8 for people 70 to 79, and 1.9 for people over 80 years of age.
The Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly, said the new cases had “changed the rate” for those between 50 and 59, changing the risk profile more in line with those under 50. There have been two deaths in Australia linked to TTS, and Kelly stressed it remains a very rare condition.
“Remember this remains a very rare but sometimes serious event; we’re picking it up much more commonly than other countries because we’re looking more fully,” he said.
“For most people, they’ve been diagnosed early, there was a large proportion of those with a less severe form of this rare syndrome, and most of those have been discharged from hospital already.”
Last week, the Italian Government also restricted the use of the AZ vaccine to people over the age of 60 after the death of a teenager with blood clots following vaccination.
The Guardian report is worth reading in full.