AstraZeneca backs Australia vaccine advice

CANBERRA, (AP) — AstraZeneca has backed the advice of Australia’s immunization expert body that Sydney residents should take any COVID-19 vaccine they can get.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, known as ATAGI, recommended on July 13 that adults under the age of 60 take Pfizer because of the increased risk in younger adults of blood clotting caused by the AstraZeneca vaccine. Pfizer and AstraZeneca are the only COVID-19 vaccines registered in Australia.

But with a delta variant cluster growing in Sydney since mid-July, ATAGI on Saturday recommended adults in Australia’s largest city as young as 18 “should strongly consider getting vaccinated with any available vaccine,” including AstraZeneca.

AstraZeneca on Monday said it supported ATAGI’s advice, adding that regulatory authorities around the world agreed that the benefits of using the vaccine significantly outweighed the risks across all adults age groups.

Australia has abundant stocks of locally-manufactured AstraZeneca, but imported Pfizer is in short supply.

Because Australia has been relatively successful in containing COVID-19 outbreaks before the more contagious delta variant arrived in Sydney with a U.S. air crew, many Australians are prepared to wait months for Pfizer rather than risk AstraZeneca.