Australia’s vaccine rollout faces further delay as local regulators recommended limiting the use of the AstraZeneca shot.
The government on Thursday advised that people aged under 50 should get the Pfizer shot instead of AstraZeneca.
The goal to vaccinate all Australians this year is likely to be delayed.
Australia has a contract for 20 million Pfizer vaccine jabs. But its contract with the Novovax vaccine is yet to be approved by regulators.
But the government has said that Australia has received only around one million Pfizer shots with the rest to arrive “by the end of the year”.
The change has raised concerns regarding a vaccine shortfall.
Critics have condemned the government for “putting all their eggs in one basket”. They say that it has undermined confidence in the AstraZeneca dose across all age groups.
On the other hand, AstraZeneca said it respected the decision taken by Australian regulators. It said tens of millions of people had received its dose globally and the blood clot risk was considered a rare side effect.
It said We note that the current situation Australia with very low to no community transmission of Covid-19 was a factor in this updated recommendation.”
Australian regulators said early studies suggested that blood clotting may occur in approximately four to six people for every one million, but noted higher rates had been reported in Germany and Scandinavia.