Five Australians have developed blood clotting syndrome after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine in the past week, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has confirmed.
They are a 66-year-old man in Queensland, a 74-year-old man and 51-year-old woman in Victoria, a 70-year-old man in Tasmania and a 64-year-old man from Western Australia.
Four of them have already left the hospital, while the Queensland man is currently being treated in the intensive care unit. He was rushed to Townsville hospital while suffering abdominal pain five days after getting the first dose of the AstraZeneca jab on April 30.
“I don’t believe in coincidences,” he told The Courier Mail. “If I’m fighting fit, vertical, extremely active one minute and then on my death bed the next. The only thing that’s changed is the AstraZeneca vaccine that I’ve had.
“There is a problem here. I nearly died. I don’t want anyone else to go through that.”
Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr. Jeannette Young said his case was a “direct result” of the vaccination.
“My thoughts go out to him and his family at this very difficult time for them,” Young said.
The Queensland man has been diagnosed with thrombosis, which occurs when a blood clot forms either in a vein or an artery. The condition can be life-threatening if the blood clot travels through the bloodstream and becomes lodged in the lung’s blood vessels.
A total of 11 blot-clotting cases had been recorded since the beginning of the vaccine rollout, with about 1.4 million doses administered.
TGA Head Adjunct Prof. John Skerritt said many of the people who developed the symptoms had “serious and significant” underlying health conditions and added that those with pre-existing clotting conditions did not show an increased risk.
He also said this is only a “rare adverse event”, stressing “the benefits of this vaccine for the over 50s still very significantly exceeds the risks.”
“Remember that the risk of serious illness or death dramatically increases by every 10 years of age once you turn 50,” Skerritt said.
“Sadly, we see that Australia is not immune from community transmission, and we’re certainly not immune from cases coming in through hotel quarantine.”
“Remember that the risk of serious illness or death dramatically increases by every 10 years of age once you turn 50, and by being vaccinated we’re not only protecting ourselves, but we are also protecting our loved ones,” he added.
The Tasmanian health department had held an expert alert advisory panel to review the rare blood-clotting case, public health acting director Dr. Scott McKeown announced.
“I want to reassure Tasmanians that vaccination remains the best way to protect against severe illness and death from COVID-19 and is a core element of the pandemic response,” McKeown said.
“Australian immunisation experts report that the overall rate of this rare syndrome is about six per million people vaccinated.”
AstraZeneca vaccine is Australia’s only locally-made shot, with 50 million doses to be manufactured onshore to vaccinate the majority of the population. However, health authorities last month no longer recommended the jab for people younger than 50 due to a rare but fatal blood clots event.