The death of a NSW woman has led to a scramble to figure out if it was caused by a vaccine. Even top officials don’t know what happened.
The death of a NSW woman has led to a scramble to figure out if it was caused by a vaccine. Even top officials don’t know what happened.

Gladys in the dark on woman’s death

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says she's waiting to hear back from federal health authorities investigating whether there is any link between a woman's death and the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.

The death of the woman in her 40s has prompted the Therapeutic Goods Administration and NSW Health officials to seek clinical information and test results as they try to figure out what caused it.

"It has not yet been established whether there is any link between the COVID-19 vaccine and the tragic death reported by NSW health officials," the federal health department said in a statement on Thursday.

On Friday morning Ms Berejiklian did a round of interviews on morning shows and said she wasn't privy to any more information about the case than the public was.

 

"I know as much as you do," she told the host of the Today show.

"All I do know is that the federal authorities are looking into these matters to see if there is that link. And in the meantime we just extend our heartfelt condolences to the family and loved ones during this difficult time."

Appearing on the Sunrise program moments later, Ms Berejiklian said she will update the public as soon as more information becomes available.

"I want to assure everybody that whenever we get information that is relevant, we always make sure we convey it as soon as we can, but there's nothing further we have to update," she said.

 

"We're relying on the federal authorities (to say) if there is a link or not, whether it's a horrible coincidence."

The federal health department said there had been two confirmed cases where Australians who had received the AstraZeneca vaccine had been sickened with a rare blood clotting disorder known as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome or TTS.

That's out of a total of more than 700,000 people who have received that type of vaccine.

In the UK, where the vaccine rollout has come much further, the ratio of blood clotting cases to jabs is even smaller.

At the beginning of the month the BBC reported that only 30 blood clotting cases had been reported out of a total of 18 million Astra Zeneca vaccine recipients.

Despite the low risk, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) advised the federal government last week that the AstraZeneca vaccine should mainly be given to people over 50.

 

Younger people can still get the vaccine, but the consent procedures around the risk of side effects will be updated.

The advice threw the Scott Morrison government's vaccine plans into disarray and prompted the Prime Minister to scrap an October target to have the entire willing population vaccinated, saying the situation is too volatile to commit to a timeline.

Mr Morrison bet heavily on the AstraZeneca vaccine and has ordered more than 50 million doses of the product, most of which will be made locally in Victoria.

The Pfizer-made vaccine that is considered safer has not been available in large enough quantities to meet Australia's needs. But the Prime Minister has put orders in for some 40 million doses that the government hopes will arrive by the end of the year.

Originally published as Gladys in the dark on woman's death



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