Australia news live: Covid experts consider EU regulator’s advice on AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots

Hello everyone, it’s already Thursday and the end is in sight! It’s Matilda Boseley here to take you through the day’s news.

The biggest news today has to be the EU’s medicines regulator declaring overnight that blood clotting should be listed as an (extremely) rare possible side-effect of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

This sounds scary but it’s important to note that EU regulators have also repeatedly stressed that the benefits continue to far outweigh any risks.

The announcement came after the EMA examined 86 blood clotting cases, 18 of which were fatal, out of some 25 million people in Europe who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine. Most of the cases were in women aged under 60.

A huge proportion of Australia’s vaccination rollout plan is reliant on the AZ jab, although we do have a large contract for promising Novavax doses which could be available later in the year, if approved by the TGA.

A number of nations have suspended the use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine for younger populations and the UK will now offer most people under 30 an alternative jab.

Australia has also had a non-fatal blood clotting case in a man aged in his 40s, with health experts saying it would be fully investigated as well as considering any research and advice coming out of the EU.

Here is what Professor Brendan Murphy said yesterday:


One case is not a strong signal but we are working very closely with our counterparts in the UK who have now done well over 18m doses of this vaccine, and in Europe, that have done many million …

The government and the department have taken the view that safety is absolutely paramount …

Europe has better data and that’s why we’re looking at their data to see whether this is a real problem and whether we need to do anything about it. At the moment, we don’t have those answers.

Big things are also happening down in Melbourne today, with Victoria’s much-maligned hotel quarantine program resuming overnight and international flights touching down for the first time in almost two months.

Some 106 returned travellers arrived at Melbourne airport from 4.30am this morning, coming from Colombo, Doha, Dubai and Singapore.

They have now gone into revamped hotel quarantine facilities, including the Holiday Inn at the airport, which was at the centre of the city last outbreak – it grew to 24 cases, triggering a statewide five-day lockdown.

After a number of reviews, the program restarted with ventilation controls in rooms and corridors and PPE requirements for staff.

Covid-19 quarantine Victoria commissioner Emma Cassar said Victorians should be confident in the third iteration of the scheme:


We have done everything we can to make this as safe as we can and we will continue to ensure the program keeps ahead of this virus.

All hotel quarantine staff have now received at least one Pfizer dose, while the majority have also undergone N95 mask-fit testing.

As a Melbourne resident, I have my fingers crossed that the third time’s the charm!

OK, with that, let’s jump into the day’s news.

If there is something you reckon I’ve missed or think should be in the blog but isn’t, shoot me a message on Twitter @MatildaBoseley or email me at matilda.boseley@theguardian.com.



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