A number of European countries have recently suspended the rollout out of the AstraZeneca vaccine due to fears that the vaccine may be linked to blood clots, some instances of which have resulted in death. Denmark, Iceland and Norway recently halted the use of the vaccine, with Austria and Italy also suspending the use of the vaccine due to concerns with certain batches. Germany, France and the Netherlands are other European countries to also stop the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Nationals Senator Matt Canavan said that it is “clearly time” for Australia to do the same and halt the rollout of the vaccine until further investigations are carried out. In a recent interview, Mr Canavan said that we should “heed these concerns that European countries have”, and that they are “obviously doing it through legitimate concerns” given that case numbers are far greater in these countries than here in Australia.
The Senator discussed how Australia “does not face and imminent risk of coronavirus spread, and surely the prudent approach here is to suspend our rollout and take heed of the evidence that will emerge in coming months”.
When asked about the TGA, he said that he doesn’t believe that they are “infallible”. Mr Canavan rightly pointed out that the “European health regulators… view should be heeded and listened to in our country as well”. After all, the AstraZeneca vaccine that is being rolled out in Europe is the same vaccine that is being rolled out in Australia. He went on to say that he doesn’t “think that the issues that face Europe are fundamentally different to ourselves, at least in terms of the impact of giving it to human beings”.
Mr Canavan stated that Europe are saying that they have “serious concerns” and that “we’re not just talking about a few countries now, we’re talking about Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Netherlands, Iceland, Ireland… all suspending their rollout”.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is “urging countries not to panic as Europe’s biggest nations suspend the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine”. When questioned on the WHO’s position, Mr Canavan responded by saying that he doesn’t “have a lot of faith in the WHO. They were saying there was no human-to-human transmission about a year ago, and got it clearly wrong.” This isn’t the first thing that the WHO have gotten wrong. In January 2020, the WHO recommended that the cycle threshold be set at 45 cycles for the RT-PCR test. However, 12 months later, they admitted that the cycle threshold has been set too high and that “careful interpretation of weak positive results is needed”.
Mr Canavan finished by saying that the “UK and Australia are about the only health authorities now saying that there’s not a concern with the AstraZeneca” vaccine. The U.S. have “yet to approve AstraZeneca as well”.
Despite Mr Canavan’s call for the AstraZeneca vaccine to be suspended, Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly maintains that the vaccine is safe and effective. Mr Kelly stated that “as noted by the European Medicines Agency, the action taken by several European countries is a precautionary measure so that a full investigation can be rapidly conducted”. Dr Margaret Harris, a spokeswoman for the WHO, said that the “panel had taken the position that the jab should continue to be administered, while an investigation of cases of these thrombo-embolic events is ongoing”. If the investigation finds that the AstraZeneca vaccine is indeed causing blood clotting disorders, will it finally be suspended or even ceased permanently? Or will there be another excuse to continue rolling out a vaccine that has been developed in 6-12 months with no long-term safety data?
We are only experiencing a handful of cases of COVID-19 a day in Australia. There has not been a COVID-19 death in Australia for months. Yet, there are grave concerns with a rushed-to-market vaccine. We are in the unenviable position whereby we can take an even more cautious approach with the vaccine. Member for Hughes Craig Kelly stated on Twitter that “it’s reckless & unconscionable for our health officials to continue to push the AstraZeneca vaccine after Germany, France & Spain suspended its use. Whatever happened to the precautionary principle ‘first do no harm’? Safety first!”
The Australian Public Assessment Report for the AstraZeneca vaccine clearly states that the long-term safety data is “missing information”, and that there are “significant concerns about the robustness of the data. The study design was not entirely fit for purpose to evaluate efficacy in high risk groups, there is insufficient data about dosing, and there were a number of patients lost to efficacy analysis.” Alarm bells were ringing loud and clear, even before the vaccine was rolled out to the general population. How many more warning signs have to appear for our government to stand up and take notice? How many adverse events, and potentially deaths, have to occur before we say enough is enough?
The Swiss Medical Regulator decided not to approve the AstraZeneca vaccine for use due to a lack of data. The list of countries suspending the AstraZeneca vaccine is growing, and now includes smaller European countries Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Luxembourg, as well as Asian countries Indonesia and Thailand.
It is time for Australia to suspend the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine until conclusive evidence proves a link between the vaccine and blood clots does not exist. We are not guinea pigs. We do not consent to taking part in the “largest vaccination trial ever”, as Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt stated recently. These mass vaccination trials must cease immediately, and our government needs to start looking after the health and wellbeing of its citizens properly.