The prime minister, Scott Morrison, and Australia’s chief medical officer have warned people not to “jump to conclusions” and assume a 48-year-old woman who died with blood clots developed them due to the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.
The woman, from Lake Macquarie on the state’s Central Coast, died on Wednesday after receiving the vaccine, reportedly last Friday.
Australian health authorities have previously concluded two local cases of blood clotting were “likely” linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine. Both cases recovered.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration and NSW Health and are studying the Lake Macquarie woman’s case and meet on Friday afternoon to asses the evidence.
Morrison said any potential link was “still being investigated at a clinical level”.
“As the experts, medical and clinical have said, do not jump to conclusions, the Therapeutic Goods Administration is considering this now,” he told reporters in Western Australia.
“When you have people who have comorbidities and other issues, to understand causal links, or to lead to any conclusion about those, it would be unwise and potentially quite unhelpful.”
The chief medical officer, Prof Paul Kelly, told reporters in Canberra the 48-year-old woman had “several chronic disease issues” reportedly including diabetes.
On 8 April, health authorities slapped an advisory on the AstraZeneca vaccine, warning that in people younger than 50 it may cause extremely rare, but potentially deadly, blood clots.
Asked whether the woman had received the vaccine after the warning, Kelly replied: “My understanding it was about three of four days [after vaccination] before she became unwell so it would have coincided with a period but I do not know the exact date.”
Kelly said he did not have information about why she may have received the AstraZeneca jab despite being under 50.
The Australian Medical Association vice president, Chris Moy, also called for caution when reporting on potential issues related to the vaccine. He said there was “a lot of data to come in”.
“The thing is, coincidences do happen and for example, in the community, we know about 50 people get blood clots a day, irrespective of whether they are given medications or not,” he told the ABC.
“What we need to do is actually be calm and make sure we have a proper perspective of this because, unfortunately, if we keep ambulance chasing and jumping to conclusions, what will happen is a negative spin on the vaccination program, which is unfair and does not benefit the vaccine rollout. There are a many great benefits.”
Earlier this week, the TGA said a second case of a rare blood clot syndrome in Australia was “likely” to be linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine. The case came after a 44-year old Melbourne man also developed the syndrome earlier in April.
On Tuesday this week, the head of the TGA, John Skerritt, said the drugs regulator had received “a very large number” of reports of clotting but none that “looked highly suspicious”.
The federal health department on Thursday night said the blood clotting disorders being investigated in connection with the AstraZeneca vaccine were “very rare and differ from common blood clots or venous thromboembolism which occur in around 50 Australians every day”.
“The clotting disorder being investigated in connection with the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, which is now referred to as ‘thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome’ (TTS), has been confirmed in only two cases out of over 700,000 people who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine in Australia.”