Australia does not have answers on whether the AstraZeneca vaccine causes blood clots but the advice remains to push ahead with its vaccine rollout, the nation’s top health official has revealed.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group (ATAGI) has recommended Australians continue to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine despite concerns it may be linked to rare clotting events reported globally.
It comes as the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) investigated one case possibly linked to the vaccine, which will make up the bulk of Australia’s rollout.
Health Department secretary Brendan Murphy said on Wednesday “one case is not a strong signal” but insisted “safety is absolutely paramount” to Australian authorities.
“Our regulator and ATAGI are advising that we continue with our program, that the benefit of vaccination outweighs any potential risk,” Dr Murphy told reporters in Canberra.
He said authorities were “continually reviewing the situation”, with the TGA and ATAGI meeting frequently throughout the week.
He said authorities were also working closely with the UK, which has already administered 18 million AstraZeneca doses.
“That’s what’s going to give us the true picture of whether this is a real problem and whether it has any significance,” he said.
“The UK has had so much more experience than we have. They’ve got the better data. Europe has better data, and that’s why we’re looking at their data to see whether this is a real problem and whether we need to do anything about it.
“At the moment, we don’t have those answers.”
An official at the European Medicines Agency claimed on Wednesday there was a causal link between the vaccine and clotting following a spate of cases reported across the globe.
The UK has paused a trial into the vaccine on children after reporting 30 cases but has continued with its vaccine rollout.
Australia has previously relied on shipments of AstraZeneca vials from Europe, which has been plagued by supply issues.
But onshore production is key to the federal government’s rollout strategy, with drug manufacturer CSL to produce 50 million doses in Melbourne.