Sometimes good people do bad things. Enter the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, which almost single-handedly (and probably unintentionally) derailed Australia’s vaccination campaign when it recommended against the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for people under 50.
The group, led by Professor Christopher Blyth from the University of Western Australia and the affable Victorian deputy chief medical officer, Allen Cheng, no doubt thought the decision would save lives. The problem is the recommendation, coupled with unfortunately misleading reports regarding AZ’s effectiveness (real-life results from the UK show almost identical efficacy to the lauded Pfizer vaccine), has led to upwards of a third of Australians being unwilling to take a vaccine.
With the benefit of hindsight, the advisory group appears to have got it wrong. Not with regards to the rate of clotting (which at 1:100,000 is more common than what was predicted) but rather the fatality rate. So far, after more than 1.8 million doses, 24 Australians have reportedly suffered clots but only one person has died. The death occurred before physicians were fully aware of the issue and well before treatments had been refined (plus the victim had severe chronic underlying health conditions, including diabetes). Given the understanding and treatments it is likely that very few others, if any, will die as a result of blood clots resulting from the vaccine.