Australia continues AstraZeneca roll-out, says no evidence of blood clots

A health worker administers a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 to a patient inside the convention center known as “La Nuvola”, The Cloud, in Rome, Wednesday, March 10, 2021. The visually extraordinary complex designed by famed architect Massimiliano Fuksas has been transformed into a temporary vaccination center. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

CANBERRA (Reuters) – Australia said on Friday it will continue to roll-out AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine as there was no evidence of a link to blood clots, despite some European countries suspending its use.

Denmark, Norway and Iceland on Thursday suspended the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine following reports of the formation of blood clots in some people who had been vaccinated.

Australia’s government said that while its pharmaceutical regulator was monitoring those cases, there would be no pause in the roll-out of the vaccine.

“We’re getting on with the vaccine, we’re getting on with the roll-out,” Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack told reporters in Melbourne.

Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said there is no evidence to suggest the vaccine caused blood clots.

“We do take them seriously and investigate,” Kelly said in an emailed statement, referring to the reports of blood clots.

Australia has secured about 54 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which Health Secretary Brendan Murphy this week described as the “the workforce vaccine for Australia”, with 50 million to be locally produced.

Australia’s vaccination roll-out has only just begun, but the conservative government is already under pressure over the speed of the COVID-19 inoculation programme.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison had said Australia would vaccinate all adults by the end of October. Instead, all adult Australians wanting a COVID-19 vaccine will receive their first dose by October, he said on Friday.

So far only around 150,000 people have been vaccinated, though Australia is under less pressure than other countries, as it has not recorded any locally COVID cases in nearly two weeks.

Australia has reported just over 29,000 COVID-19 cases and 909 deaths since the pandemic began, far fewer than many developed countries, due international border closures, lockdowns and strict social distancing rules.