KEY POINTS

  • The first case of thrombosis was a Melbourne man in his 40s
  • The blood clots are similar to the cases reported in Europe and the UK
  • The woman's diagnosis was complicated by some other conditions

According to the nation's medical regulator, health authorities in Australia have reported a second case of blood clots which is 'likely' linked to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccination.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) released a statement on Tuesday saying that the case occurred in a woman who was in her 40s. She had received the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Western Australia.

In a further setback for Australia's already halting coronavirus vaccine rollout, officials said the AstraZeneca shot would no longer be given to people under the age of 50 In a further setback for Australia's already halting coronavirus vaccine rollout, officials said the AstraZeneca shot would no longer be given to people under the age of 50 Photo: AFP / STEVEN SAPHORE

TGA added that the woman is hospitalized, receiving treatment and is in a stable condition.

According to ABC, a panel of expert advisers to the TGA found the blood clots somewhat similar to the cases reported in Europe and the UK as it included symbolic blood clots in veins and also a low blood platelet count.

"Its vaccine safety probe group on Monday, concluded that a recently reported case of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia is likely to be linked to vaccination," said the TGA.
 
The head of the TGA, John Skerritt, told reporters in Canberra "the woman's diagnosis was complicated by some other conditions."

He said, "deep-vein thrombosis and other forms of clotting are extremely common and were not overtly contraindicated, which means that they do not rule out a patient receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine." 

"So it's only if you've had a similar condition, related to an anticoagulant called Heparin, that people are saying do not vaccinate those people," he added.

This is the second case of thrombosis linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine after a man in Melbourne, who was also in his 40s, developed the syndrome earlier this month.

"There have been about 700,000 doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine administered in Australia to date, so while numbers are small, two cases … equates to a frequency of one in 350,000," the TGA said.

"The UK regulator… has concluded from its review of cases reported in the UK that the overall risk of these rare blood clots was approximately one in 250,000 who receive the vaccine."

The TGA said that it had used an "internationally accepted method to rate the certainty of a link between the blood clots and the vaccine." 

It concluded that "the case is similar to cases seen in Europe and the United Kingdom of a rare clotting disorder because it included blood clots in the veins, low blood platelet count and blood test results consistent with other cases."

"Diagnosis was complicated by some ambiguous imaging findings and the need to run additional confirmatory blood tests."

The common side-effects of COVID-19 vaccines included fever, sore muscles, tiredness and headache, and those were not of concern unless severe or persistent, the report said.

"The reports of these rare clotting complications have occurred later (between day four and 20 after vaccination) and have generally been severe, requiring hospitalization," it added.

Greg Hunt, the federal health minister of Australia, said that almost 56,000 vaccines had been administered in the country in the past 24 hours in spite of some state programs being "paused or varied" in order to deal with the new AstraZeneca warning.

On being asked if there was an increase in the vaccine hesitancy due to the warning in the country, Hunt said that the "health authorities had anticipated potentially a significant drop but that is not what we have seen at this stage."

He also said that the federal government would be meeting with the states to revive the vaccination drive for people under the age of 50. 

"But what continues is the vaccination program for the over-50s – that remains as vital as ever." 

"Vaccinations save lives. Vaccinations protect lives," he added.