More countries suspend AstraZeneca rollout

·2-min read

Australian authorities have dismissed concerns about the AstraZeneca vaccine as more European nations suspend their use of the drug.

The Netherlands has stopped using the coronavirus vaccine for at least a fortnight, while Ireland has halted its rollout over concerns about side effects.

Regional authorities in northern Italy have also binned a batch of AstraZeneca shots after a teacher died following his vaccination.

Denmark, Norway and Iceland have already halted use of the vaccine while authorities investigate whether it is linked to blood clots.

But Australia's chief medical officer does not share their concerns.

"There is currently no evidence that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine causes blood clots," Paul Kelly told AAP on Monday.

"The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is effective, it is safe, and it's a high-quality vaccine."

Professor Kelly said more than 11 million people had been vaccinated in the UK without evidence of an increase in blood clots.

He said while it was important to carefully monitor any unusual events, these incidents could not necessarily be blamed on vaccines.

Prof Kelly spoke to British and European medicine regulators overnight.

Because of Australia's close working relationship with European counterparts, the Therapeutic Goods Administration was always one of the first to be notified about possible problems with coronavirus vaccines.

"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," he said.

"Vaccination programs with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine are continuing in other countries."

Prof Kelly said Australia had strong and clear protocols around reporting adverse reactions.

"Our focus during the vaccine rollout remains the safety of all Australians," he said.

Federal and state health authorities are pressing ahead with the national immunisation program.

More than 164,000 people have now been vaccinated, including about 40,000 aged care residents across 437 facilities.

"Those numbers are growing every single day," Health Minister Greg Hunt told parliament.

"As we bring onboard a sovereign vaccine manufacturing capability, the likes of which is available to few other countries, we give ourselves the capacity to vaccinate the nation and provide that certainty and provide the path way out."

Mr Hunt is hopeful CSL will soon be able to manufacture one million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine each week.

Queensland and NSW recorded no additional coronavirus cases on Monday, after each state announced a single case over the weekend.

Mr Hunt said Commonwealth officers were working with both jurisdictions to help contain the spread of coronavirus.