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News

Australia mulls latest AstraZeneca advice

Australia mulls latest AstraZeneca advice

Australia is considering the United Kingdom's decision to give people aged under 30 an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine due to possible blood clot links.

Health authorities are also weighing the latest advice from the European Medicines Agency, which emphasised blood clots were extremely rare, and vaccine advantages far outweighed the risk.

The federal government has asked its immunisation advisory group and the national medicine regulator to review the findings.

"Regulators have already been working with their international counterparts to consider the latest international evidence," a spokesman told AAP on Thursday.

"That advice will be provided to the Commonwealth government for immediate consideration and relayed to the AHPPC, which is the medical expert panel led by the chief medical officer, and also comprising all state and territory chief health officers."

The findings will be discussed among state and federal health ministers and at the next meeting of national cabinet.

"The Australian government places safety above all else, as it has done throughout the pandemic, and will continue to follow the medical advice in protecting Australians," the spokesman said.

One million Australians will have received their coronavirus vaccines within days and the national figure is expected to double soon afterwards.

More than 920,000 people have now been given coronavirus jabs.

The number is still a very long way behind the government's initial targets, but signs of improvement are starting to show.

Health Minister Greg Hunt expects to reach the one million mark "very soon" as people return to general practices after the Easter break and larger vaccination clinics scale up operations.

He expects the daily injection rate to ramp up rapidly as more doctors join the rollout, soon soaring past two million jabs.

The prime minister has spent the past several days escalating a messy dispute with the European Union over the failed delivery of millions of vaccines.

Scott Morrison blames the blockage for major delays in Australia's rollout.

European officials have hit back at his claims, sparking an unseemly war of words.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese accused the prime minister of sending mixed messages, when all people really want is to know when they will receive the vaccine.

But the political potshots over vaccine supplies may be short-lived as domestic production ramps up.

Mr Hunt has indicated CSL is on the verge of achieving its target of producing one million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines locally each week.

More than 1.3 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines have so far been released from CSL.

A batch of 470,000 will be released later this week and another 480,000 early next week.

If a second batch of 670,000 doses is released later next week as planned, CSL will eclipse its weekly goal.

Mr Hunt also confirmed Australia has received 870,000 doses of Pfizer vaccines from Europe.

Meanwhile, federal health officials say there are no signs of a causal link between the Pfizer vaccine and the death of a woman in a Queensland aged care home.

It is understood the 82-year-old received a dose at the Springwood Yurana Aged Care Facility on Wednesday before she died that afternoon.

- AAP