SYDNEY -- The Australian government said Thursday that it is urgently reviewing reports from the European Union and the United Kingdom on the links between the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots in a small part of the inoculated population, although it will continue to administer it.
The European Medicines Agency confirmed yesterday a "possible link" of the AstraZeneca drug with "very rare cases of unusual blot clots," although it maintained that "the overall benefits of the vaccine in preventing COVID-19 outweigh the risks of side effects."
The UK recommended offering alternatives to those under the age of 30 due its potential impact on young adults.
Australia's chief medical officer Paul Kelly said Thursday that representatives of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization and the Therapeutic Goods Administration had been addressing the matter since Wednesday with a view to issuing recommendations to Cabinet, which will meet on Friday.
"We certainly place safety above all else. And as we've done throughout the pandemic, the government will be guided by that advice," according to a transcript of Kelly's interview with national broadcaster ABC posted to the Department of Health website.
Unlike countries such as Spain and Italy, which have unilaterally limited or stopped the administration of AstraZeneca doses to certain sectors of the population, Australia will continue to inoculate with the vaccine unless medical advice says otherwise.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison insisted in statements to the media that "what we're looking at here is an incidence of these clotting behavior of some one-to-five in every million."
Australia, which has accumulated some 29,400 cases of Covid-19, including 909 deaths, began its vaccination campaign on Feb. 21, and has been criticized for its slow progress.
The government attributes the delay to the European Union not shipping the remaining 3.1 million doses of AstraZeneca it pre-ordered last year.