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Australia abandons goal of vaccinating population by end of year

Australia abandons goal of vaccinating population by end of year

Australia abandons goal of vaccinating population by end of year

Australia has given up on its goal of giving the entire adult population their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the year.

It comes after the Australian Government accepted a recommendation by health experts that people under 50 receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine over the AstraZeneca jab.

In a Facebook post on Sunday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison conceded his government has “not set, nor has any plans to set any new targets for completing first doses”.

“While we would like to see these doses completed before the end of the year, it is not possible to set such targets given the many uncertainties involved.”

The federal government has ordered an extra 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, but they are not expected to be available until the fourth quarter of this year.

The new guidance regarding the AstraZeneca vaccine is due to vaccination findings out of Europe and the UK of extremely rare instances of people developing a very specific syndrome involving blood clots with low platelet counts after receiving the jab. The syndrome is called “thrombosis with thrombocytopenia”.

A statement from Professor Brendan Murphy, Department of Health Secretary and Professor Paul Kelly, Australian Government Chief Medical Officer said it was “important to note the AstraZeneca vaccine remains highly effective at preventing death and severe illness among people who have contracted COVID-19 – and that the incidence of the blood-clotting syndrome is very rare”.

The experience abroad is that approximately one in every 250,000 people vaccinated with AstraZeneca is diagnosed with the rare blood clots, or 0.0004 per cent.

COVID-19 itself can also cause clotting and lower platelets. A recent paper found that pulmonary embolism, or clotting on the lungs, occurs in 7.8 per cent of people who have COVID-19; deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or clotting in the legs, occurs in 11.2 per cent of COVID-19 patients; and up to 30 per cent of people who have the virus will get thrombocytopenia, which is a lowering of the platelet count.

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