Australian Medical Association Says NSW Covid Lockdown Failed, Urges Change of AstraZeneca Advice | Australia News
Australian Medical Association president Dr Omar Khorshid said lockdown measures were unlikely to contain the Delta outbreak in New South Wales and urged Australia’s Technical Advisory Group on the vaccination (Atagi) to recommend the AstraZeneca vaccine for more age groups.
Currently, the Atagi advisory recommends the Pfizer vaccine, which is rare and in great demand in Australia, “as the preferred vaccine for people aged 16 to under 60” because of the rare but serious risk of clotting known as name of TTS linked to AstraZeneca. and more common in the under 60 age group.
Khorshid said advice needs to be changed given the growing number of infections in NSW, with a worrying number of people still in the community, including in workplaces and supermarkets, albeit infectious . In her daily update on Friday, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said vaccination would now be the key to containing the outbreak and emerging from the lockdown.
“The problem is we don’t have any supplies,” Khorshid said. “In my opinion, we need to revisit AstraZeneca’s recommendation around young Australians because, at the moment, it is the most available vaccine. But we can’t get it up and running faster if people aren’t willing to have it.
“And the problem is, they won’t get it. So I think we need a review of this Atagi review and later today I’ll be asking Atagi to change their review, which currently asks people under 60 to do their own risk assessment. to know whether or not to have it, which is really inappropriate for the crisis in New South Wales in the midst of a pandemic.
“If Atagi agrees with WADA – and these are the experts – that the situation in NSW is not improving but getting worse, and given that vaccination is now the strategy to get NSW out of this lockdown, then we need more to access the AstraZeneca vaccine, as we do not have enough Pfizer.
In July, Atagi issued advice on the use of Covid-19 vaccines in an epidemic context in light of the Sydney epidemic. The advisory says that in the event of an outbreak and Pfizer’s supply is limited, people under the age of 60 without immediate access to Pfizer should “re-evaluate the benefits to themselves and their contacts of being vaccinated with the vaccine.” Covid-19 AstraZeneca, compared to the rare risk of a serious side effect ”.
But Khorshid said the advice was not adequate as it was still too much on individuals to do their own risk assessment. He said people wanted clearer recommendations from experts during a crisis, and given the negative publicity around AstraZeneca and rare clotting.
“What we are hearing on the ground is that people are not lining up in NSW for the vaccine despite Atagi’s advice,” Khorshid said. “[Health minister] Brad Hazzard made it clear yesterday; only 50 people had presented to a mass vaccination center in one day for AstraZeneca, while 9,000 had received Pfizer. The demand for AstraZeneca is therefore not there. And part of that is because it’s not a recommendation for much of the population at the moment and if we can change that recommendation, hopefully more people will line up for the vaccine. “
Earlier in the week, Atagi co-chair Professor Chris Blyth told Guardian Australia that Atagi has met and discussed the latest evidence every week. At the last meeting on Wednesday, no changes were made to the notice.
Khorshid said he wanted to be clear that the lockdown measures must remain in place in New South Wales until Delta is canceled.
“Today we have seen a large number of new cases in this outbreak in NSW despite the lockdown settings, and it’s a sign that maybe the lockdown settings alone don’t work once Delta hits that. level in the community, ”Khorshid said.
“It is shown that, even with severe restrictions, it continues to spread and increase. You can only imagine what the numbers would be if Sydney was not on lockdown. So while we may need to switch to a new strategy, this new short-term strategy at least will not include the easing of restrictions, as it will be dangerous in an unvaccinated population, so it means continued lockdown. Rapid vaccination is, however, very difficult. One of the things you should avoid is spreading the virus through people queuing for that vaccine. So, it’s not going to be easy.
He said there was a good argument for directing vaccines from other jurisdictions to NSW given the crisis, he could understand the concern of state and territory leaders that a Delta outbreak could happen at any time and, therefore, they were reluctant to end up with inferior offers.
“Victoria has locked down much faster than NSW and yet even Victoria is not yet out of danger,” he said. “This virus may be faster than our settings. We need to join with the rest of the world to roll out vaccines as quickly as possible. “
Guardian Australia has contacted the Atagi co-chairs for comment, but they appeared before the Senate Covid committee on Friday.
New South Wales health director Dr Kerry Chant said on Friday that it was young people who were particularly at risk, as they often worked in critical industries such as the food supply chain which continue to operate despite closures. But many are not yet eligible for vaccination. She urged the national cabinet to view the situation in NSW as a national emergency and to allocate resources, including vaccines, accordingly.
“I argue that we need to use Pfizer for these young people to stem the chain of transmission because we know it will give them individual benefits and also prevent them from spreading it,” Chant said. “What we are seeing is that people are bringing it into their homes and then infecting their older relatives.”
University of Sydney vaccination expert Professor Julie Leask said she could understand the proposal to redirect vaccines to New South Wales.
“But what happens then in other states where there may be an epidemic like the Victorian epidemic?” she said.
“This is something that has to be taken into account… Our strategies are like looking at the sky and looking at the stars which reflect what happened light years ago. We need to make sure that everything we do now must have a significant impact on what future epidemic risks look like. “
Leask said it’s important to stress that AstraZeneca is an option for many people.
“And the reluctance to get vaccinated is part of the problem with using AstraZeneca, but so are the confusion and inconvenience,” she said. “It is also about not knowing where and how to get vaccinated, being refused to a general practitioner who does not want to give it to you if you are under a certain age, and not being able to obtain it. of a state center. necessarily.
“Once you put barriers in the process, people try to access them but then give up. “
But Leask said of Atagi that it was not helpful for politicians or governing bodies to question their advice. Some people hadn’t even read their updated guidance for outbreak settings, she said.
The advisory says people with an outbreak who received their first dose of the Covid-19 AstraZeneca vaccine more than four weeks ago should contact their vaccine supplier to arrange their second dose as soon as possible. In non-epidemic situations, the preferred interval between doses of AstraZeneca remains at 12 weeks.
“Atagi’s advice is way ahead of this outbreak and there is this feeling that they are not ahead, which is not helped by the Prime Minister’s comments in recent days,” Leask said.
But their advice had to be well communicated and reach various groups, she said.