Blood clot 'likely' linked to AstraZeneca vaccine, acting CMO says

Australia's acting chief medical officer Professor Michael Kidd on Friday.
Australia's acting chief medical officer Professor Michael Kidd on Friday.

The case of a 44-year-old man who developed blood clots was "likely" linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine, authorities believe.

But Australia's acting chief medical officer Michael Kidd said there was no need to pause or restrict the rollout of the vaccine, as he noted there had been just one reported case of the side-effect from the more than 400,000 doses administered so far in Australia.

He said the Therapeutic Goods Administration and government's vaccine advisory group continued to investigate the case of a 44-year-man who was admitted to hospital in Melbourne with serious thrombosis and a low platelet count after he received the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in late March.

The TGA convened a meeting of independent experts on Saturday morning to examine possible links between the clots and the vaccine, with their advice passed on to the nation's chief medical officers.

While a "definitive" connection had not been established, Prof Kidd said it was "likely" the man's condition was linked to the vaccine.

"While at this time we don't have evidence of causality, the clinical features of this case are consistent with what we have seen of international reports of similar cases and it is likely that the case reported yesterday is related to the vaccine," he said.

Prof Kidd said the government's vaccine advisory group would have further information from international regulators when it next convened on Wednesday.

The group on Friday issued advice to consumers and clinicians to be alert for the symptoms and signs of thrombosis.

"The risks of serious side-effects remain very low, but safety is paramount," he said.

Prof Kidd said regulators in UK and Europe had not recommended broad restrictions on the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, despite a number of reported cases of the side-effect.

However other countries, including Canada, have recommended restrictions on its use for certain groups.

Prof Kidd warned Australia remained at risk of serious COVID-19 outbreaks, given the vast majority of the population didn't have immunity either through vaccination or past infection.

"At this time, the risk of serious disease and death from COVID-19 if we experience a severe outbreak, especially among older Australians and those with serious health conditions, is far greater that the very small potential risks of a very rare clotting disorder associated with the vaccine," he said.

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