Matt Canavan
Matt Canavan

Canavan calls for AstraZeneca rollout to be suspended

Queensland Nationals Senator Matt Canavan has broken ranks with his Liberal colleagues and called for the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine to be suspended until more is known about its potential side effects.

Rockhampton based Senator Canavan's calls come in the wake of Spain Germany, France and Italy suspending the AstraZeneca rollout overnight, due to some recipients experiencing dangerous blood clots.

Blood clots can travel through the body and cause heart attacks, strokes and deadly blockages in the lungs.

AstraZeneca has reported 15 cases of deep vein thrombosis, or a type of clot that often develops in the legs, and 22 instances of pulmonary embolisms, or clots in the lungs.

Senator Canavan told The Observer we should investigate the link between the vaccinations and serious blood clots.

"I think we should take the cautious approach as many nations in Europe have taken, like France, like Spain, like Germany and Italy," he said.

"We shouldn't just blindly rush forward with something, when we've got a few safety concerns we should have the confidence to pause the rollout while we investigate the link."

Disclosing any previous medical conditions was important for Central Queenslanders who have, or are soon to get the vaccine.

"Ensure that your doctor is aware of any previous medical conditions and to continue to listen to the health advice of your medical professional," Senator Canavan said.

Due to Australia's management of COVID, Senator Canavan said we had the luxury to pause the AstraZeneca rollout.

"At this stage I'm just calling on a pause to investigate the potential risks of the AstraZeneca vaccine," he said.

"If it's determined that this isn't a risk we should continue the rollout, but we've got the Pfizer vaccine as a possibility, the moderna vaccine I believe is still going through the approval process but it could always be a possibility.

"In the end, I'm not saying that we shouldn't have any vaccine, just that we have the luxury to be cautious and I think we should wait to see the results of the investigation underway in Europe."

Senator Canavan was joined in his calls for a suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccination rollout by Federal Member for Hughes Craig Kelly.

But Queensland Labour Senator Murray Watt accused Senator Canavan of "undermining" the government's vaccination program.

"I think Matt Canavan's comments today are just undermining the government's entire approach to how we're supposed to be vaccinating the community," Senator Watt said.

"On one hand we've got Scott Morrison, Greg Hunt and other people in the government telling everyone to go out and get vaccinated, and now we've got Matt Canavan saying the whole thing should be put on hold.

"I think it leaves Central Queenslanders very unsure and very confused about what the governments advice is."

The suspension of the rollout by the European nations follows the most recent death of a 57-year-old Italian clarinet teacher who died within hours of being vaccinated on the weekend. After being vaccinated on Saturday evening, the teacher tragically died at home on Sunday morning.

The teacher from the northern Piedmont region of Italy received the vaccine as part of a national rollout for teachers.

An AstraZeneca spokesman said there have been 37 reports of blood clots out of more than 17 million people vaccinated in the 27-country European Union and Britain.

The spokesman said there was no evidence the vaccine carried an increased risk of clots.

Both the World Health Organisation and the European Medicines Agency have said the data doesn't suggest blood clots were caused by the AstraZeneca vaccine, and encouraged people to continue to get immunised.

The news also comes as the Queensland Government announced on Tuesday that southeast Queensland frontline workers would start receiving their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

The Pfizer vaccine is reported to have 95 per cent efficacy against COVID-19 as opposed to the reported 63 per cent efficacy rate of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

 

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