Australia reacts to vaccine bombshell
After a week of dizzying news surrounding Australia's lagging vaccine rollout, we've been hit another blow overnight with calls the plan is now in "disarray".
The Prime Minister announced during a snap, late night press conference on Thursday night that Australians under the age of 50 should not receive the AstraZeneca vaccine and instead be offered an alternative where possible.
The news came after the Prime Minister met with health officials regarding the vaccine over suggestions it may be linked to blood clotting.
The PM said regulators made the decision to offer an alternative following confirmation of a "rare but serious risk" of fatal blood clots.
Chief medical officer Professor Paul Kelly said the fatal blood clotting was a "very rare event".
The change came after a rush review by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) that advises on the vaccine strategy and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
The PM said the Pfizer jab is now "the preferred vaccine" for those under 50.
"The Government accepts the advice from Australia's medical experts and will move swiftly to ensure Australia's vaccination program and advice to patients is adjusted accordingly," a statement to news.com.au read.
"The Australian Government places safety above all else, as it has done throughout the pandemic, and will continue to follow the medical advice in protecting Australians."
In a statement, AstraZeneca said it "respected" the decision of the Australian government, noting "the current situation in Australia with very low to no community transmission of COVID-19 was a factor in this updated recommendation from ATAGI and their view that the risk-versus-benefit assessment for the use of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine may be different for Australia compared to other countries, such as those with widespread transmission".
Australia's COVID-19 rollout is largely dependant on local manufacture of the AstraZeneca vaccine - and this announcement could be a spanner in the works.
On ABC's 7.30 program, host Leigh Sales described it as a "huge development given how reliant Australia is on the vaccine."
The Government has just announced it has been advised that “the use of the Pfizer vaccine is preferred over the AstraZeneca vaccine in adults aged less than 50 years”. #abc730#auspolpic.twitter.com/iBzizS9kgb— abc730 (@abc730) April 8, 2021
Sky News' political reporter Tom Connell echoed those comments, saying the rollout will most likely be affected by the news.
"There are a lot of impacts on this rollout. The overall rollout is going to be delayed," he said.
But AMA Vice president Dr Chris Moy said on Sky: "It's probably not going to make as much of a difference as you might think".
Liberal member for North Sydney Trent Zimmerman backed Mr Morrison on Thursday night's ABC QandA program after host Hamish Macdonald described it as "a very big moment for Australia".
He said it was important to recognise that "safety comes first".
An under 50 frontline worker who had received her first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine appeared on the program and said: "It would have been nice to receive the news 24-hours ago".
"I don't regret getting vaccinated, hopefully every thing will be OK", she said.
In a fiery interview with Sales on Tuesday night, Professor Brendan Murphy said he "rejected" the idea Australia was failing in its COVID-19 vaccination program.
Dr Murphy "completely rejected" Sales' accusation that the Australian public sees the rollout as "anything other than amateur hour".
And it seems the response to Thursday nights news is no different. Commentators including Patricia Karvelas described the vaccine strategy as a "bungle", meanwhile the PM had "failed", according to others.
Meanwhile Opposition leader Anthony Albanese labelled the PM "arrogant" in a fiery tweet.
Here's the talk online.
Since last year, Labor has been calling on the Morrison Government to get five or six vaccine deals – for a situation exactly like this.— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) April 8, 2021
Scott Morrison dismissed these concerns.
How much longer will Australians wait to be vaccinated because of Scott Morrison’s arrogance?
The vaccine strategy has been a bungle and this will have implications for vaccine hesitancy and that is worrying #auspol— Patricia Karvelas (@PatsKarvelas) April 8, 2021
Really wish Australia ordered more than the AstraZeneca vaccine now.— Chad Ryan (@ChadwikoRCC) April 8, 2021
Pfizer opening hours.— Sally Sara (@sallyjsara) April 8, 2021
Clot Morrison— Dee Madigan (@deemadigan) April 8, 2021
Saying that we “do have an alternative” in Pfizer seems like a bit of a stretch.— Matilda Boseley (@MatildaBoseley) April 8, 2021
Did someone at the Liberal Party just get a job at Pfizer or what?— Dan Ilic 😷 (@danilic) April 8, 2021
In January, the Government was urged to get more deals to reduce the risk.— Josh Burns (@joshburnsmp) April 8, 2021
Scott Morrison's stubbornness said no.
The resulting delays from cancelling AZ for under 50 will be devastating for business and the economy. #auspol
What a mess. Australians were already confused and let down by Morrison's slow vaccine rollout. Now it's even more unclear when they'll be able to be immunized. #auspol— Kate Thwaites (@ThwaitesKate) April 8, 2021
Will Australia still want to send AstraZeneca doses to PNG if they’re to be used on under 50s there? UK gov pointed out that the worse the Covid situation, the more the jab’s benefits outweigh the risks.— Ben Lewis (@benlewismedia) April 8, 2021
It's clear that far too many eggs were in the AstraZeneca basket— Natasha Robinson (@NC_Robinson) April 8, 2021
I’m told Victorian Govt won’t make a formal response to the PMs announcement tonight.— Simon Love (@SimoLove) April 8, 2021
But understandably senior sources in Victoria tell me tonight’s announcement from the PM is a huge blow to confidence.
It’s a lot to digest.#springst#auspol@10NewsFirstMelb
Originally published as Australia reacts to vaccine bombshell