AstraZeneca has come out in defence of its vaccine for all adults after Australia’s national medical panel again changed its advice for people in Sydney.
The city’s continuing COVID-19 crisis means the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation has strongly recommended every adult in Sydney get whatever jab they can, including AstraZeneca.
AstraZeneca says the advice of ATAGI and Therapeutic Goods Administration reinforced decisions by global authorities, particularly for protection against the Delta variant.
“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 on Monday.
More than 750 million doses of AstraZeneca have been supplied to more than 170 countries in the past year.
“Our vaccine continues to be an important tool in overcoming the COVID-19 global health emergency, underpinned by our commitment to provide broad and equitable access, at no profit during the pandemic.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has promised an extra 90,000 Pfizer doses for NSW following lobbying from the premier.
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.
Australia has also secured another 85 million Pfizer doses to cover booster shots in 2022 and 2023.
Eight people, including a woman aged in her 30s, have died in the outbreak as NSW reported 141 new cases on Sunday.
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 told ABC radio.
People have a much greater risk of becoming severely ill or dying from the virus than the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said Sydney’s outbreak was “not as in control as we would want but it’s certainly not out of control”.
The city’s lockdown is due to end on July 30 but is highly likely to be extended.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said ATAGI’s latest advice was not a major 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,” Mr Albanese said.
“And now they say, because the risk assessment has changed, they’ve made a slight adjustment to that advice.”
The ATAGI advice on AstraZeneca balances the risk of developing rare blood clots against the benefits of protection against coronavirus.