Two more deaths linked to AstraZeneca vaccine

Matt Woodley

22/07/2021 3:42:26 PM

There have now been six Australian deaths related to the AstraZeneca vaccine, out of more than 6.1 million administered doses.

AstraZeneca vaccine vial.
At the time of publication, there had been 87 confirmed or probable cases of TTS in Australia.

The latest fatalities, confirmed in this week’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) vaccine safety report, were a 44-year-old man from Tasmania and a 48-year-old woman from Victoria.
The woman was reported as a probable thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) case last week, and brings the overall number of TTS deaths in Australia to five. The other AstraZeneca-linked death was a 61-year-old WA woman who developed immune thrombocytopenia (ITP).
Overall, there have been 87 confirmed (53) or probable (34) cases of TTS so far in Australia, including four in the past week. Six cases are in intensive care, while a further 19 remain in hospital.
Three of the 87 cases have been linked to second doses, but they have reportedly presented with less serious symptoms.
All of the deaths have come following the first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID vaccine, and the TGA has stated that in Australia, severe cases of TTS appear to be more common in women in younger age groups.
To date, nearly half of the TTS cases in women have required treatment in intensive care, while four of the five TTS deaths have been female. Cases have most often occurred about two weeks after vaccination, although the time to onset (or diagnosis) has ranged from 1–54 days.
Additionally, cases meeting the criteria for Tier 1, as defined by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were also twice as likely to occur in women compared to men.
The US CDC classification for TTS is defined as:

  • Tier 1 – clots in an unusual location (such as the brain or abdomen) and a low platelet count with or without antibodies that activate platelets (anti-PF4 antibodies)
  • Tier 2 – clots found in common locations (such as the leg or lungs) and a low platelet count and anti-PF4 antibodies
  • Not classified – case does not meet the criteria for Tier 1 or Tier 2 (for example clots in common locations with low platelet count but no evidence of anti-PF4 antibodies) 
As part of its safety monitoring, the TGA has also been comparing natural expected death rates with observed death rates following immunisation.
So far, the observed number of deaths reported after vaccination remains less than the expected number of deaths that would occur naturally, or from other causes, for that proportion of the population. 
Apart from TTS, the regulator is tracking suspected cases of ITP and has so far received 34 reports. Described as a type of thrombocytopenia or low platelet count, ITP is reportedly more difficult to diagnose because it does not have unique identifying features if it occurs after vaccination.
‘ITP occurs when the immune system mistakenly destroys platelets, which help blood to clot. It can occur after the immune system is activated, for example by a viral infection or vaccination, and has been reported with other vaccines,’ the safety report states.
‘In many cases ITP is mild, with up to a third of people having no symptoms at all, or only minor bruising. However, about 5% develop severe bleeding.
‘There is no specific test that confirms ITP, so doctors rely on excluding other causes of thrombocytopenia. An alternative diagnosis often only becomes clear once more detailed patient information becomes available.’
Suspected ITP patients in Australia have had an extremely low platelet count, and signs of thrombocytopenia including unusual bruising, a nosebleed and/or blood blisters in the mouth.
A possible link between Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) and the AstraZeneca vaccine also remains under investigation and the TGA is seeking expert advice on the results of a detailed evaluation. It has received 61 reports of suspected GBS in people who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine.
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Dr Andrew Samuel Brandson   23/07/2021 6:10:45 PM

I am 97 year old with aortic heart valve on Aspirin To have the vaccine or thr Covid.

Dr Suresh Kumar Nair   28/08/2021 7:25:54 AM

Should have the vaccine