The death of a Weet-Bix factory worker from a blood clotting condition was linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine she got five days earlier, regulators confirmed.
Genene Norris, 48, from the New South Wales Central Coast died on April 14 after receiving the embattled coronavirus jab on April 8.
She developed blood clots the next day and four days after she received the jab she was placed on dialysis in an intensive care unit until her death.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration’s vaccine safety investigation found Ms Norris’ case of thrombosis is likely to be linked to the vaccine.
All vaccines will now be ‘continuously reviewed’ after the woman’s death.
Genene Norris, 48, from the New South Wales Central Coast died days after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine
Authorities said the review of the woman’s case was complicated by her underlying health conditions – including diabetes among others.
Ms Norris was given the jab before health authorities declared the Pfizer vaccine was the preferred option for patients under 50.
It is the third report of an Australian case of blood clotting from the AstraZeneca vaccine. The other two cases were treated in hospital and are recovering.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration’s Vaccine Safety Investigation Group met late on Friday after Daily Mail Australia revealed on Thursday that the woman died after receiving the Covid jab.
Experts on the Vaccine Safety Investigation Group said despite the absence of antibodies in the woman’s blood which have been found in other clotting cases linked to the vaccine, a causative link should be assumed.
They also noted some laboratory tests were still pending and a post-mortem examination will be in the coming days.
‘Given this is an atypical presentation, should the test results and/or the autopsy provide an alternative causation, VSIG would review their decision,’ the TGA said on Friday.
The same group advised earlier in April that people aged under 50 should not be vaccinated with the AstraZeneca jab due to a risk of blood clots.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt extended his condolences to the woman’s family and said the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) would now conduct ‘continuous review’ of all vaccines.
This would dovetail with the TGA’s work, Mr Hunt said.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration’s vaccine safety investigation found Ms Norris’ case of thrombosis is likely to be linked to the vaccine. (Stock image)
Sanitarium Health Food Company, which is based on the New South Wales Central Coast at Berkeley Vale, confirmed the 48-year-old woman was one of its 800 employees
‘Throughout the course of the pandemic, we have followed the medical advice and we will continue to do that … sometimes that leads to difficult and hard decisions,’ Mr Hunt told reporters on Saturday.
‘That is the greatest protection for Australians in a pandemic that daily produces challenges and heartaches and tragedies.’
An autopsy on the 48-year-old woman will be conducted next week and a NSW coroner inquest into the woman’s death will be held.
There have been 885,000 doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine given to Australians since the rollout began.
The three cases of blood clots gives a rate of one in 295,000 jabs that could potentially result in these complications, the TGA said.
WHICH COUNTRIES HAVE SUSPENDED THE ASTRAZENECA VACCINE?
SUSPENDED FOR UNDER-30s
- United Kingdom
SUSPENDED FOR UNDER-55s
SUSPENDED FOR UNDER-60s
SUSPENDED FOR UNDER-65s
SUSPENDED FOR UNDER-70s
SUSPENDED FOR ALL AGES
- The Netherlands
Australia Chief Health Officer Paul Kelly pointed out on Friday that Covid-19 patients were far more at risk of developing blood clots than those who get the vaccine.
He said ‘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 warned.
A study of 500,000 Covid-19 patients in the US found that 36 in a million developed a potentially deadly blood clot.
By comparison, only four per million people suffer a serious blood clot as a result of the AstraZeneca jab.
Symptoms of the rare clotting complications include severe headaches, blurred vision, pain or bruising away from the injection site, leg swelling and shortness of breath.
Health authorities advise anyone experiencing any of these after vaccination should seek medical attention.
The effects are different from more common side effects which include fatigue, sore muscles or fever that subside by day three after vaccination.
Sanitarium Health Food Company, which is based on the New South Wales Central Coast, confirmed the woman was one of its 800 employees.
‘The company is saddened by the loss of a much loved employee, and we offer our heartfelt condolences to her family, friends and workmates,’ a spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia.
Mr Morrison promised the whole adult population would be immunised by October, but the rollout has since been derailed by the jab’s link to blood clots.
Twenty million doses of Pfizer are on their way but no more help is on hand for younger Australians until at least October.
The prime minister said he ‘would like’ all Australians to get at least their first dose by the end of the year, but made no guarantees.
In a desperate attempt to get the stalled program back on track, he plans to create huge hubs to ramp up vaccinations.
Ms Norris’ death follows Denmark declaring they will be ceasing use of the AstraZeneca vaccine all together, while under 30s in the UK are already being offered alternative vaccines.
There have been 885,000 doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine given to Australians since the rollout began (nurse is vaccinated in Townsville)