Five more suffer blood clotting after receiving AstraZeneca jab
A 66-year-old man in ICU in Queensland is among five Australians to have developed serious blood clots linked to the AstraZeneca jab in the past week.
Five more people are being treated for serious blood clots linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine, the Therapeutic Goods Administration has said.
The cases are in a 74-year-old man and a 51-year-old woman from Victoria, a 66-year-old man from Queensland, a 64-year-old woman from Western Australia and a 70-year-old man from Tasmania.
Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeanette Young said the 66-year-old is in intensive care as a "direct result" of receiving the COVID jab on March 30.
"(The) TGA has confirmed with me that they believe that his illness is a direct result of the AstraZeneca vaccine," Dr Young said.
"He received the first dose of the vaccine on 30 March … and presented to the Townsville hospital, where he was admitted and tested and it's now been confirmed that he… has most likely developed that syndrome."
Dr Young's announcement was followed by Tasmanian authorities announcing a 70-year-old man was in hospital with suspected blood clots following his AstraZeneca jab.
Tasmanian acting director of Public Health Dr Scott McKeown said the man reported symptoms seven days after the vaccine and was now in a stable condition in hospital.
Therapeutic Goods Administration head John Skerritt has cautioned that there are always the occasional adverse reactions to vaccines.
"I just want to go back a step and remind people that for every thousand doses of either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine administered we receive between six and seven on average adverse event reports," Professor Skerritt said.
"These are people who have felt unwell or have presented to a doctor or hospital after being vaccinated."
These "adverse event reports" are overwhelmingly fever, joint pain, muscle soreness, tiredness, nausea and vomiting, Professor Skerritt said.
Professor Skerritt has reassured Australians that the AstraZeneca vaccine was safe.
"Sadly, blood clotting including fatal blood clotting is actually quite a common cause of serious illness and death in Australia," he said.
"We have talked about 50 cases a day being serious and this was before COVID vaccines."
Professor Skerritt said the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine "still very significantly exceeds the risks".
"You'll notice that all of those people, one just, are over 50, but if you stop back and think about who is now getting the AstraZeneca vaccine, it is only with a few rare exceptions it is only people over 50," he said.
"So it is obvious that future cases will be in the over 50s."
The five new instances of blood clotting has not changed TGA advice to the government.
"Australia is not immune from community transmission and we're certainly not immune from cases coming in through hotel quarantine," Prof Skerritt said.
"Remember that the risk of serious illness or death dramatically increases by every 10 years of age once you turn 50."
Eleven cases of blood clotting in total have been linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine, of 1.4 million doses administered.
Of those, four are out of hospital already and two are back at work. A fifth is "doing well" in hospital.
All 16 cases of severe allergic reactions to the Pfizer vaccine in Australia have now recovered, TGA head John Skerritt has said.
"In Australia, there were 54 cases reported to 24 April but only 16 were genuine," he said.
"All of those people have recovered, they were often treated with adrenalin by their health care facility, and there's a warning with the vaccines that if you've had this sort of reaction to similar sorts of products or vaccines before don't get vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine."
Allergic reactions to the Pfizer vaccine in Australia were in line with worldwide figures.
AstraZeneca released a statement in the wake of the blood clot news.
"AstraZeneca is aware that there have been additional cases of thrombosis with thrombocytopaenia (TTS) reported in people who recently received the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, and that they are receiving treatment," the statement read.
"Patient safety remains AstraZeneca's highest priority and we continue to support regulators in Australia and overseas.
"Tens of millions of people have now received our vaccine across the globe. The extensive body of data from two large clinical datasets and real-world evidence demonstrate its effectiveness, reaffirming the role the vaccine can play during this public health crisis.
"Our global commitment remains to play an important role in addressing the current global health emergency posed by COVID-19 by providing a safe and effective vaccine, at no profit during the pandemic."