Date published: 
8 April 2021
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

DANICA DE GIORGIO:    

Returning now to our top story. The EU's Medicines Regulator reports it's found a possible link between AstraZeneca COVID vaccine and blood clots in adults. Joining me now live is Australia's Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly. Professor, how concerned should Australia be?

PAUL KELLY:       

Well, look, we're following these events in Europe very closely. In fact, members of our TGA have been on all night teleconferences over the last- video conferences over the last few days as they've been doing their deliberations. We had a meeting yesterday with the UK regulator and the equivalent of what we call ATAGI here in Australia, our expert group on immunisation that advises the Federal Health Minister. So we're very, very linked in with those discussions. And this is- a couple of things I would say about it. One is this is the system working. We know that it is very important to follow particularly new vaccines like the COVID-19 vaccines as they are rolled out to millions of people in the world. And picking up rare side effects - and this appears more likely that this is a side effect of the AstraZeneca vaccine, these extremely rare blood clots - picking them up, investigating them, working through how that works and whether there's any particular warnings that need to come out. And that's what happened overnight in Europe and in the UK. We'll be doing something very similar today. The Government has asked the ATAGI group to meet again today. They met yesterday for several hours. And then today they'll be providing information and advice to the government about what are the implications here in Australia. These are extremely rare events, though. A very safe, very effective vaccine in most cases, but in about four in a million, that seems to be the rate at the moment in Europe these extremely rare blood clots appear to occur with AstraZeneca. So that's new information, and we'll need to take that into account in relation to our own programme here in Australia.

DANICA DE GIORGIO:    

Professor, the UK has ruled that under 30’s will be offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca jab. Should Australia follow suit?

PAUL KELLY:       

Well, I don't want to pre-empt the advice of the medical expert panel. They'll be meeting today, and then I'll be chairing a specific meeting of the Australian Health Protection Committee as well. Health ministers will be meeting later today. National Cabinet is tomorrow. These discussions will be part of that process. So we'll wait to see what the Australian expert group says in the Australian context should be done. The UK have made that decision on the basis of their own experience in the UK. And so that's important, that local element of the decision-making, and we'll be doing the same today.

DANICA DE GIORGIO:    

Let's talk about mass vaccination hubs. Yesterday, New South Wales announced that it will put one in the inner west of the city. Are other states planning on implementing mass vaccination hubs?

PAUL KELLY:       

Sorry, I can't hear the question.

DANICA DE GIORGIO:    

Okay, hopefully your audio is OK, but I will repeat that question again, Professor. Yesterday, of course, we heard from the New South Wales government that they plan to put a mass vaccination hub in the inner west of the city. Are other states planning to follow suit?

Okay, we have actually lost Professor Paul Kelly unfortunately there, but as we mentioned, he was speaking, of course, about the AstraZeneca vaccine and the findings that came out overnight by the Europeans' medicine regulator. We will hopefully touch base with him today.

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