The therapeutic regulatory agency is investigating a dozen new cases of blood clots potentially linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Heath Parkes-Hupton

NCA NewsWire JUNE 17, 20212:27PM

The data is coming in for vaccine side effects Aussies are experiencing, so how serious are they?

Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration has revealed 12 additional cases of blood clotting, potentially linked to Covid-19 vaccines, have been recorded in the last week.

The TGA said the total number of blood clots with low blood platelets – known as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) – linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine has risen to 60.

But it stresses TTS is still extremely rare and that rise correlates to the additional number of doses administered to Australians as the vaccine rollout progresses.

The most common effects of both the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines range from headaches to muscle pain and fevers.

Additional cases of blood clots have been linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine. Picture: Juan Mabromata / AFPSource:AFP

Seven of the 12 new recorded incidents of TTS – of which three are confirmed and nine are deemed “probable” – occurred in people aged 50 to 59.

The three confirmed TTS cases were two women, aged 55 and 65, from Victoria and a 53-year-old woman from NSW.

The nine probable TTS cases were found in a man, 54, from Northern Territory, a 65-year-old woman from Tasmania, 50 and 56-year-old men and a 69-year-old woman from Victoria, a woman, 58, from South Australia, 59 and 80-year-old men from Queensland and a woman, 67, from NSW.

In the week of June 7 to 13 the TGA received 2106 reports of “adverse” effects in vaccinated patients.

Comment: In less than a week over 2000 people have reactions to this vaccine

After more than 5,867,000 doses have been administered since the roll out began, the rate of someone experiencing adverse effects stands at just five in 1000 people.

Two people have died from blood clotting.

People line up to receive their Covid-19 vaccination at the NSW Health Vaccination hub in Sydney. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Bianca De Marchi

People line up to receive their Covid-19 vaccination at the NSW Health Vaccination hub in Sydney. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Bianca De MarchiSource:News Corp Australia

Anyone who has been vaccinated should seek immediate medical attention if they develop any of the following symptoms after vaccination:

  • severe or persistent headache or blurred vision
  • shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling or persistent abdominal pain
  • unusual skin bruising and/or pinpoint round spots beyond the site of vaccination.

The most common time period for onset of TTS symptoms is between four and 30 days after vaccination.

The TGA has compiled a list of the most common side effects for vaccinated people.

“They include headache, muscle and joint pain, fever and injection site reactions,” the report, released on Thursday, states.

“The most common reactions reported for the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in the week of 7-13 June 2021 were headache, fever, muscle pain, chills and nausea.”

“The most common reactions reported for the Comirnaty (Pfizer) COVID-19 vaccine in the week of 7-13 June 2021 were headache, muscle pain, injection site reactions, nausea and lethargy.”

There was a rush to get vaccinated in Melbourne during its two-week lockdown.

There was a rush to get vaccinated in Melbourne during its two-week lockdown. Source:Getty Images

Officials are continuing to monitor for conditions including capillary leak syndrome and immune thrombocytopenic purpura linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine, but have so far had no confirmed cases.

The Pfizer vaccine has been linked to a higher than usual chance of developing myocarditis (inflammation of the heart) and pericarditis (inflammation of the membrane around the heart) in US studies.

There have been one report of myocarditis (heart issues) and 14 reports of pericarditis in vaccinated people since the rollout began in Australia.

Comment: Why have we got a Lt General as a spokesman as part of a vaccine roll out??

New advice

On Thursday, Health Minister Greg Hunt confirmed new recommendations from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation about the extremely rare but serious blood clots.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is no longer recommended for people aged under 60.

“We accept the advice and accept that Pfizer is the preferred vaccine for under 60s. AstraZeneca is recommended for over 60s,” Hunt told reporters in Canberra.

For people who have had a single dose of AstraZeneca, health authorities have given the green light for the second jab.

Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt.
Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt. Credit: LUKAS COCH/AAPIMAGE

The decision puts further strain on the federal government’s vaccine rollout which will now have to rely more heavily on imported Pfizer doses.

Access to Pfizer will be expanded to all Australians aged 40 to 59.

AstraZeneca was considered the backbone of the immunisation strategy until ATAGI recommended in April the vaccine be used for over-50s.

File image of a nurse filling a syringe with the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine.
File image of a nurse filling a syringe with the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine. Credit: RICHARD WAINWRIGHT/AAPIMAGE

Millions of doses of AstraZeneca are being produced in Melbourne but Australia has no capacity to build mRNA vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna.

Two people in their 50s who received AstraZeneca have died in Australia after developing blood clots.

As of last week, more than 3.6 million doses of AstraZeneca have been administered nationwide since the rollout kicked off in February.

– with AAP

Vaccine Differences


The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine could be a game changer for low- and middle-income countries

Among the Covid-19 vaccines furthest along in development, the AstraZeneca-Oxford candidate is among the most likely to be affordable to low- and middle-income countries. And considering much of the world’s population currently lives in low- and middle-income settings, it’s the jab that — with a 90 percent efficacy result — could make a big dent in the pandemic worldwide.

It also uses a novel approach to inoculation, one that’s different from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — and from conventional vaccines.

Vaccine makers have typically used the virus itself or a fragment of the virus, often in a weakened or inactivated form, to inoculate recipients.

But this new generation of vaccines uses genetic instructions for making parts of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19. All three candidates — Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca-Oxford — deliver the instructions for making the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, or the part of the virus that lets it enter human cells. And it’s these instructions, which human cells then use to manufacture parts of the virus, that are injected into vaccine recipients, essentially coaching the immune system to fight off the invader should it arrive.

The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines both use mRNA as their platform for delivering the genetic instructions.

AstraZeneca-Oxford’s uses DNA instead, and the DNA is delivered to cells with the help of another virus known as an adenovirus. (Other Covid-19 vaccine developers, like CanSino Biologics and Johnson & Johnson, are also using adenovirus vectors.)

AstraZeneca, unlike Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech, has promised to sell its shot at cost — around $3 to $4 — and not to profit from the vaccine while the pandemic is ongoing (though public money has gone into funding its research effort). According to the FT, that price is “a fraction” of the expense of the other vaccine candidates, which are expected to cost between $15 and $25 per dose.

Also unlike the two other leading vaccine candidates, it doesn’t require extremely cold temperatures for storage. That’s the distribution hurdle Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech are working to overcome.

Moderna’s vaccine requires long-term storage at minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit) and is stable for 30 days at refrigerator temperatures between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius (36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit). Meanwhile, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine demands ultra-cold temperatures of minus 70 degrees Celsius (minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit) or lower, with about five days of shelf life at refrigerator temperatures. The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine can be stored in a normal refrigerator for at least six months.

So these are the reasons why the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine has become a leading contender lower-income countries are relying on to end their epidemics. For now, the shot “accounts for more than 40% of the supplies” going to low- and middle-income countries, according to Bloomberg. AstraZeneca said the company has the capacity to supply 3 billion doses of the vaccine in 2021.