Australia to continue review of COVID vaccinations - health minister


FILE PHOTO; A sign for a COVID-19 vaccination clinic is seen as high-risk workers receive the first vaccines in the state of Victoria's rollout of the program, in Melbourne, Australia, February 22, 2021. REUTERS/Sandra Sanders/

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia will continue its review of coronavirus vaccines after a 48-year-old woman's death was likely linked to the inoculation, Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Saturday.

On Friday, Australia reported its first fatality from blood clots in a recipient of AstraZeneca's (AZN.L) COVID-19 shot. It was the third case of the rare blood clots appearing in people who have been administered the vaccine in the country. "The government will ask ATAGI (Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation) to ensure continuous review of all of the vaccines in terms of their safety and their efficacy," Hunt said at a televised briefing.

He said there will be no immediate change to further limit the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine and reiterated that the Pfizer vaccine remains the preferred option for people under the age of 50.

There had been at least 885,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines administered in Australia so far, equating to a frequency of instance of blood clot in every 295,000 cases, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) said earlier this week.

Hunt also said that a decision on whether to prioritise athletes and support staff in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout with the Tokyo Olympics fast approaching will be taken in the coming week.

"We shall want to see our olympians get to the Olympics and we want to see that they are safe," he said.

Australia has been one of the world's most successful countries in curbing the pandemic, with snap lockdowns, border closures and swift tracking limiting coronavirus infections to just under 29,500 infections, with 910 COVID-19 deaths.

(Reporting by Lidia Kelly; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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