AMA says AstraZeneca vaccine critical to combat growing Covid-19 Delta outbreak

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid has called on the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) to review its advice on the AstraZeneca vaccine in response to the growing risks posed by the outbreak of the Delta variant in NSW.

Dr Omar Khorshid

The NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian today declared the Greater Sydney Covid-19 outbreak a national emergency, at the advice of NSW Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant.

Dr Khorshid said the standing ATAGI advice on preferred application of the AstraZeneca vaccine to people 60 years of age and over was based on a risk assessment, when there were low levels of community transmission.

“The situation in Sydney and NSW is today different to what it was a few days ago, with persistent and growing rates of community transmission of the Delta variant despite the lockdown. Today there were 136 new locally acquired cases of Covid-19,” Dr Khorshid said.

“Of the new cases recorded in the 24 hours to 8pm on Thursday, more than 53 people were infectious in the community.

“In this outbreak situation, ATAGI must consider providing the community with much clearer and firmer advice on the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine that is used in many countries around the world and approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration for anyone 18 years and over.

“Now, six days into the current lockdown the numbers are going up, not down. The Sydney community needs to be given every encouragement to get vaccinated as soon as possible as part of a new strategy to control the Delta outbreak.

“As we don’t have enough Pfizer to use in a targeted roll-out, the only option is AstraZeneca. It will save lives and help see life return to some normality in Greater Sydney.

“We’re now in a situation where the risk of contracting Covid is substantial, as is the risk of the virus spreading outside the Greater Sydney region,” said Dr Khorshid.

“While it is critical that we see a lift in vaccination rates in Sydney, it remains essential for the NSW Government to keep up its fight against the virus through strict social distancing measures,” he said.

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