SYDNEY — AstraZeneca has backed Australia’s expert immunization panel’s new advice on vaccination after the latter recommended getting any jab available.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation strongly recommends everyone in Sydney get any jab available, including AstraZeneca. The slightly revised recommendation comes on the basis of an increased risk of the Covid-19 vaccine and Pfizer’s constrained vaccine supply still a month away from scaling up.
The southeastern state, New South Wales, recorded 145 new local cases on July 26, with the state capital’s ongoing Covid-19 crisis likely to lead to a lockdown extension beyond July 29.
AstraZeneca pointed to global medical advice showing its vaccine was effective against the contagious Delta strain circulating in Australia.
“Regulatory authorities around the world have stated that the benefit of using our vaccine significantly outweigh the risks across all adult age groups,” the company said in a statement.
More than 750 million doses of AstraZeneca have been supplied to more than 170 countries in the past year.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said there was now alignment between the situation in Sydney and the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation’s advice.
“The message from our medical experts is abundantly clear: go and get vaccinated,” he said.
Frydenberg said ending lockdowns, reopening Australia, and ensuring families were safe depended on people being immunized.
“Getting vaccinated is our ticket out of this crisis,” he said.
Emergency Management Minister Bridget McKenzie said the risk of side effects from AstraZeneca was incredibly low.
“We have had the privilege here in this country; the choice may be to choose the Lamborghini versus the Ferrari of Covid vaccines when we really just need to be getting vaccinated,” she said.
Just over 16 percent of Australians aged 16 and over are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
Pfizer remains the preferred vaccine for under-60s, but any adult can go to a doctor and seek an AstraZeneca jab if they provide informed consent.
Eight people, including a woman aged in her 30s, have died during Sydney’s outbreak taking the national Covid-19 death toll to 918.
Immunologist Peter Doherty said the Delta variant had led to more severe disease in younger people.
“A lot of young people thought for a long time that they kind of had a free pass with this,” he said.
People have a much greater risk of becoming severely ill or dying from the virus than the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said the advisory group’s latest advice was not a significant departure from its earlier recommendations.
“There’s not a big change between what they did say previously, which was that people could get the vaccine to AstraZeneca if they consulted with their doctor,” he said.
“Now they say, because the risk assessment has changed, they’ve made a slight adjustment to that advice.”
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation advice on AstraZeneca balances the risk of developing rare blood clots against the benefits of protection against Covid-19.
Edited by Saptak Datta and Krishna Kakani
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