The NSW woman who died with blood clots days after her COVID-19 vaccination has been identified as 48-year-old Genene Norris.
A Therapeutic Goods Administration vaccine safety group met on Friday evening and concluded the woman’s case of blood clots with low platelet count was likely linked to her AstraZeneca vaccination.
This is known as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia.
The TGA’s Vaccine Safety Investigation Group said the 48-year-old, who had several chronic health conditions, received the jab early on April 8.
Advice surrounding the use of the AstraZeneca jab was later that day changed, with those aged under 50 advised against taking the vaccine.
The woman was admitted to hospital four days later and died earlier this week.
The VSIG said the woman was the third such case of blood clots with low platelet count post-vaccination, with the first two cases still in hospital.
Some 885,000 AstraZeneca doses have been administered in Australia so far.
“The review of this case was complicated by the patient’s underlying medical conditions, including diabetes, some other medical conditions as well as some atypical features,” the VSIG said in a statement.
However, the VSIG said a certain type of antibody common in other post- AstraZeneca vaccination blood clot cases was not present in this case.
There were also some laboratory test results pending.
“Despite the atypical clinical features and the negative antibody test, in the absence of an alternative cause for the clinical syndrome, VSIG believed that a causative link to vaccination should be assumed at this time,” it said.
Medical authorities this week nevertheless called on Australians over 50 not to cancel their bookings for the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly told reporters in Canberra on Friday that “people should be cautious about jumping to conclusions” over the case and he urged people to continue to get vaccinated.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison also called for calm, saying concerns around vaccine hesitancy meant it was important the matter was investigated.
Professor Kelly confirmed some Australians have been reluctant to receive a vaccine since the medical advice on the AstraZeneca jab was updated.
However he stressed the vaccines were safer than the alternative, quoting a new Oxford University study which found the risk of blood clots in the brain is eight times more likely after a COVID-19 infection than an AstraZeneca jab.
“Clotting is a feature of COVID,” Prof Kelly said.
“It also happens to be a feature, very rarely, of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“But the benefit absolutely, and particularly for those over the age of 50, outweighs significantly the risk.”
Vaccination is crucial because the Australian community will not remain virus- free forever, Prof Kelly said.
The federal government has appointed Commodore Eric Young to help coordinate the roll out of inoculations at the Department of Health’s Vaccine Operations Centre.
The government will also have to consider the possibility of Australians needing a third Pfizer jab after the company’s boss suggested it may be necessary to maintain virus protection.