Update: Friday, March 9, 1:45pm
As you may have read this morning, Pfizer has been named the preferred vaccine for under 50s in Australia, due to the “possible link” between AstraZeneca and rare blood clots. The company reassured Australia they were on track to deliver 20 million Pfizer vaccines before the end of the year.
Well, it’s now been announced that Australia has managed to secure an additional 20 million doses of the preferred vaccine, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying it was confirmed overnight.
The Prime Minister anticipated they’ll be available in the final three months of the year, quoted in The Sydney Morning Herald saying that “We will obviously be doing everything we can to seek to move that forward where we can but that is very welcome news.”
Novavax vaccines are also expected in the final quarter of the year, pending regulatory approval. This would be the first delivery of this specific vaccine.
Original Post: Friday, March 9, 11:25 am
It’s official. Following the rising concern over the “possible link” between AstraZeneca and rare blood clots (as phrased by the European Medicines Agency), Australian health authorities have advised the Pfizer vaccine should be given to Australians under the age of 50 — that is, if they haven’t already received their first dose of AstraZeneca, as part of group 1a or 1b.
The information came in a surprise press conference held yesterday evening, called by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, where Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly (who previously said AstraZeneca was “extremely effective and very safe”), said, “The use of the Pfizer vaccine is preferred over the AstraZeneca vaccine in adults aged less than 50 years who have not already received a first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine.”
The reason that Pfizer is recommended for under 50s, according to the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), is recognition of the fact that the blood clot syndrome is currently more common within that age group. It also recognises the fact that the potential effects of COVID-19 are far worse for those over the age of 50.
Unfortunately, ATAGI agrees that this safety concern will likely impact confidence in being vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine, in all age groups; the vaccine was originally depicted to be the backbone of our country’s vaccine rollout.
And another unfortunate thing is that yes, the time frame will be pushed even further back than it was already (if you didn’t know, last week we were under-delivering by 3.4 million vaccines).
Scott Morrison, who has been lovingly nicknamed Clot Morrison on Twitter, said that it’s “too early to say” the impact this news will have on the vaccine rollout — which was originally due to be completed by October.
Pfizer has released a statement, saying that in addition to the one million doses that have already been delivered, they’re “committed to delivering 20 million doses to the Australian Government over the course of 2021.”
No word on when they’ll address the fact blood clots are also a worrying, and statistically more likely to occur, side effect of the contraceptive pill.