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October, 3

AstraZeneca’s vaccine rollout has been paused across Europe amid blood clot reports. Should Australia follow suit?

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Australia’s medicines regulator insists there’s “no evidence” the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is the cause of blood clots which has seen its use suspended by several leading European nations, including Germany and France.

Chief medical officer Paul Kelly said while he was aware of countries in Europe pausing rollout of the vaccine, other countries, including Canada and the UK were still continuing to use AstraZeneca as planned.

“With a vaccine rollout like this, we need to monitor carefully for any unusual events,” Professor Kelly said.

“The Australian Government remains confident in the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and there is currently no evidence that it causes blood clots.”

The AstraZeneca vaccine is the jab most people in Australia will get, with 53.8 million doses of the AstraZeneca secured by the Department of Health.

But what exactly are blood clots? Are the numbers we’re seeing in vaccinated populations higher than expected? And should Australia halt its rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine?

A healthcare worker holds the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine.
Australia’s regulator insists there’s “no evidence” the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is the cause of blood clots.(Getty Images: Antonio Masiello)

What are blood clots?

In the simplest terms, a blood clot is when a clump of blood changes from a liquid to a semisolid state.

Most of the time, blood clots are totally harmless and can be really useful if you scratch yourself and they can prevent you from losing too much blood.

But if a blood clot forms in your veins, it can travel to your organs and stop blood flow — leading to potentially deadly consequences.

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