PM urges calm on COVID vaccine investigation after men’s deaths

Scott Morrison at the Howard Springs quarantine camp on Wednesday.

Scott Morrison at the Howard Springs quarantine camp on Wednesday. Photo: AAP

Scott Morrison has urged Australians to remain calm over reports of two NSW deaths that may have been linked to a coronavirus vaccine.

The Prime Minister said the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s medical experts needed to be allowed to do their job and provide advice on all adverse reactions.

“They went through a no-corners-cut process of assessing the vaccines in Australia. Their investigators move on these issues very quickly,” Mr Morrison told Darwin radio Mix 104.9 on Thursday.

“We’ve got to be careful about how we talk about these cases. Let’s allow the medical facts to be established and let’s make decisions to be made on facts.”

A 55-year-old man from Tamworth in NSW reportedly died on April 21 after getting his first shot eight days earlier.

A relative of the man told the Northern Daily Leader he died of blood clots in his lungs.

The death of another NSW man, believed to be in his 70s, who died in Sydney this week, is also being investigated by the TGA.

Earlier in April, 48-year-old Genene Norris, from the NSW Central Coast, suffered fatal blood clotting after receiving the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

She had underlying health conditions, but the TGA confirmed the clotting was likely to be linked to the vaccine.

Later on Thursday, TGA boss John Skerritt backed up Mr Morrison, urging Australians not to leap to conclusions before the authority had completed its investigation.

“We have 11,000 adverse events in front of us, ranging from a sore arm through to people having a heart attack a week after having a vaccine, through to a number of other things,” he said.

“For privacy reasons, I don’t want to go into details of individual patient tests and results and other conditions they may or may not have had, [but] the current evidence does not suggest a likely association.”

Professor Skerritt said about 50 Australians presented to doctors or hospitals each day with blood clots “from a range of activities, [or] coming from no reason at all”.

“It is one of the more significant causes of death in this country,” he said.

“It’s important to realise that we’re not seeing a flood of these serious cases.”

The cautious tones from Professor Skerritt and Mr Morrison came as the government and health experts try to fight rising vaccine hesitancy.

The TGA has confirmed six cases of rare blood clots that are likely linked to the AstraZeneca vaccination.

While there is advice it not be used in people under 50, the side effect is extremely rare, with between four and six cases for every one million jabs.

Victoria is putting the heat on the federal government to stump up cash for a new quarantine facility in Melbourne’s north.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the state government was yet to request funding.

Mr Morrison, who met tourism industry chiefs in Darwin, said options to bring more overseas workers and international students to the NT were also being canvassed.

“It would have to be a partnership with the commercial sector,” he said.

He noted setting up specific quarantine facilities like at Howard Springs near Darwin needed to consider infection control, workforce, security and flights.

“It’s not just about finding a mining camp with some beds. It’s much more complicated than that,” Mr Morrison said.

Labor continues to pressure the Coalition government to boost hotel quarantine and take charge of more federally run centres.

-with AAP

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