Australia buys additional 20 million Pfizer doses after AstraZeneca concerns

Sydney, Australia, Apr 9 (efe-epa).- Australia has secured another 20 million doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, the government said Friday.

It comes a day after recommending it as the preferred drug for those under 50 years of age, instead of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has been linked to rare blood clots.

“It is anticipated that these additional 20 million doses (of Pfizer) will be available in quarter four of this year,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison at a press conference in Canberra.

With the new acquisition, the country will have a total of 40 million Pfizer doses.

The urgent purchase came after the Australian health authorities recommended Thursday night that the Pfizer vaccine is preferred for those under 50 years of age, unless they have already received the first dose or due to exceptional circumstances.

The recommendation came after the European Medicines Agency confirmed on Wednesday a “possible link” between the AstraZeneca drug and unusual cases of blood clots, although it maintained its positive opinion on the benefits outweighing the risks of this vaccine.

Australia, where so far only a 44-year-old man has developed blot clots after being vaccinated with AstraZeneca, also based its decision on the UK’s recommendations for alternative drugs to be given to those under 30 years of age due to its potential impact on that age range.

The Morrison government, which had acquired 53.8 million doses of AstraZeneca, of which 50 million will be produced locally, has faced setbacks in its vaccination program due to the concerns regarding this drug and delays in its schedule, which Canberra blames on the European Union for not shipping pre-ordered doses.

Both the Australian health authorities and the prime minister assured that AstraZeneca has not been banned and continues to play an important role in immunizing people over 50 as well as the most vulnerable.

“The most vulnerable people in our community are not just over 50, they are actually a lot older than that,” Morrison said.

“The AstraZeneca vaccine is well suited to address those critical vulnerable groups,” he added, alluding to nursing home residents, who were heavily affected during the country’s second wave.

Australia, which has recorded some 29,400 cases of Covid-19, including 909 deaths, began its vaccination campaign on Feb. 21 and expected to conclude it by the end of October. EFE-EPA


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