Australia, which is struggling to get its anti-Covid vaccinations off the ground, announced Thursday that it in turn decided to stop using the AstraZeneca vaccine in the youngest, setting the threshold at 50 years. The Philippines stop using it for people under 60 years old.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that AstraZeneca vaccine should no longer be given to people under the age of 50, unless they have already received a first dose without side effects, at a conference press Thursday evening. This in the wake of reports confirming a link to serious although rare cases of blood clots.
‘We have taken the necessary precautions based on the best possible medical advice,’ said the Prime Minister, to whom the Australian Medical Advisory Board recommended following the lead of countries that have already decided to limit the use of l ‘AstraZeneca.
Several European countries have decided in particular to reserve the use of AstraZeneca for the elderly, over 55 years in Belgium and over 60 years in Italy and Spain. In Switzerland, the product is not yet authorized.
Australia is one of the most successful countries in containing the spread of Covid-19, with less than 30,000 cases and 1,000 deaths for a population of 25 million. But the country has fallen far behind the government’s immunization schedule, with just one million doses given on Thursday, when it wanted to administer four million by last week.
Australia relied on AstraZeneca to vaccinate most of its population. But the vaccine shortage in Europe has resulted in delays in deliveries of the product, while planned deliveries of alternative vaccines like Pfizer / BioNTech and Novavax have yet to start.
‘Very effective vaccine’
‘I would like to reiterate that we strongly encourage people aged 50 and over to get vaccinated with AstraZeneca, as it is a very effective vaccine in preventing serious complications from Covid,’ said Brendan Murphy, head of the government health department.
He added that the risk of blood clots associated with the vaccine was ‘extraordinarily low’. So far there has been only one case of a blood clot in a patient who received AstraZeneca vaccine in Australia.
The Philippines too
The Philippine Ministry of Health has announced the suspension of AstraZeneca vaccine injections for those under 60 years of age. This decision comes at a time when the vaccination campaign in this Southeast Asian archipelago is struggling and the country is recording a record number of contaminations.
The Philippines has received some 2.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine, the majority from Chinese laboratory Sinovac. They also have some 525,600 doses of AstraZeneca under the Covax program, most of which have already been administered, according to official figures. The country expects three million additional doses in the coming months.
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