SYDNEY, April 9 (Reuters) – The Australian dollar stumbled on Friday, pulling on the New Zealand dollar as well, due to concerns about a slowdown in Australia’s coronavirus vaccine rollout following the imposition of age-related restrictions on the use of AstraZeneca injections.
The Australian dollar was last down 0.6% at $ 0.7607, nearly reversing its gains from Thursday and falling back from a two-week peak of $ 0.7675 after failing to hold above major chart resistance at $ 0.7668.
Australia has limited the use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine – which is largely based on a vaccination program – because of the risk of blood clots. The policy change effectively undermined the government’s chances of inoculating the entire population that was not inoculated by October.
“Even if the vaccination program is slow, it will further complicate Australia’s launch schedule,” said Jeffrey Halley, Senior Market Analyst, Asia Pacific, OANDA.
“Delayed border reopening equals negative for Australia.”
For the week so far, the Aussie is still up 0.3%, the first gain since the week of March 12th.
The currency has been consolidating around $ 0.7650 in recent weeks after a brief advance to $ 0.80 earlier this year. Some analysts expect the price to hit that high again.
“We continue to expect the AUD to rise to $ 0.85 in the first half of 2022, supported by high commodity prices and by the momentum gathering in the global recovery, including across Europe,” currency strategist Westpac wrote in a note.
Westpac expects the currency to hit $ 0.82 by the end of this year.
“The main source of increased growth is an increase in our forecast for US growth in 2021,” added the analysts.
The New Zealand dollar fell 0.5% to $ 0.7025. The kiwi faces resistance at $ 0.7070 with the next major barrier at $ 0.7100.
For the week this has been largely unchanged, marking another week of disappointing performance.
Separately, the prospect of a rate hike in China weighed on the antipodean currency after data showed the country’s factory prices rose at the fastest annual rate since July 2018 in March.
China is the top trading partner for Australia and New Zealand.
“Overall, AUD and NZD, are facing a number of obstacles today,” said Halley of OANDA. (Edited by Simon Cameron-Moore)
SYDNEY, April 9 (Reuters) – The Australian federal government faces a tense meeting with state and territory leaders on Friday following a sudden change to the country’s vaccination program sparked by a recommendation that people under 50 take Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine instead of an AstraZeneca shot. .
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the policy change, based on a possible link between AstraZeneca injections and rare cases of blood clots, would delay Australia’s planned inoculation which was behind schedule due to a shortage of supplies.
Australia has ordered 20 million doses of Pfizer vaccine, enough for 10 million out of a population of nearly 26 million, but has used the AstraZeneca vaccine for most injections with biopharma that CSL Ltd contracts to make 50 million doses domestically.
On Thursday, Australian authorities changed their recommendations after European regulators reiterated a possible link between AstraZeneca injections and reports of very rare cases of blood clots. As a result, plans to have the entire population vaccinated by the end of October will be scrapped, Morrison said.
“This is really changing the game for Australia and not in a good way,” Labor deputy senate chairman Kristina Keneally told Australian Broadcasting Corp on Friday.
“While we’re lucky we don’t have high community transmission rates at the moment, we know that can change.”
After the hardline response to the coronavirus largely halted community transmission, vaccination launches have become a hot political topic – and a source of friction between Morrison and state and territory leaders – after the country failed to hit its target of having four million people vaccinated in the end. – March.
Australia started vaccination much later than some other countries due to its low number of infections, just under 29,400, with 909 deaths, since the pandemic began. (Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Christopher Cushing)
LONDON (Reuters) – Italy recommended on Wednesday that AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 injections be used only in those over the age of 60 and the UK that people under 30 should get alternatives, due to the possible link between the vaccine and very rare cases of blood clots.
More than a dozen countries have at one time suspended the use of the vaccine, which has already been given to tens of millions in Europe. But most have continued, with some, including France, the Netherlands and Germany, recommending a minimum age.
EU health ministers have failed to agree on general guidelines on the use of injections, despite calls for coordination across member states to combat public doubts over a vaccine set that will be a key component of many vaccination programs.
Italian health authorities recommend that injections be used only in people over 60 years of age, but those under 60 who have taken the first AstraZeneca injection can also use the second injection.
An official in the UK said new advice by a government advisory group that other vaccines should be chosen for those under 30 if possible was “completely out of caution, rather than because we have serious safety concerns”.
European regulators reiterated that they have found a possible link between the vaccine and very rare cases of blood clots, but reiterated the importance of protecting people from COVID-19.
Rising infections caused by more contagious variants threaten hospitals in many EU countries – where vaccination rates lag behind Britain and the United States – forcing France and others to reinstate lockdowns.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) received reports of 169 rare cases of brain blood clots in early April, after 34 million doses had been administered in the European Economic Area (EEA), according to Sabine Straus, chair of the EMA’s safety committee. The EEA is made up of 27 EU countries plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.
In comparison, four out of 10,000 women will experience blood clots from using oral contraceptives.
In a statement, the EMA said it reminded healthcare professionals and recipients to remain vigilant against “the possibility of very rare cases of blood clotting combined with low blood platelet levels occurring within 2 weeks of vaccination”.
NO NEW GUIDELINES
“So far, most of the cases reported have occurred in women under the age of 60 within 2 weeks of vaccination,” he added.
It did not issue new guidelines, saying European countries must make their own decisions on how to deal with risks.
AstraZeneca shots are sold at a price, for a few dollars per dose. This is by far the cheapest and highest-volume vaccine launched so far, and lacks the extreme cooling requirements of some of the other COVID-19 vaccines, making it likely a mainstay of many vaccination programs in developing countries.
In Germany, which recommended last week that people under 60 who receive one injection of AstraZeneca should get a second dose of another vaccine, an official said cases of the rare clotting condition were 20 times higher in those who received the shots.
But experts say that, even if a causal link is proven, the risk of serious freezing is less than the risk of a possible COVID-19 infection, which can cause similar clots along with other serious symptoms.
“The risk of dying from COVID is much greater than the risk of dying from this rare side effect,” said EMA executive director Emer Cooke.
BENEFITS OUT OF RISK
However, AstraZeneca’s shares were down 1.2% at a two-week low.
The injection has faced questions since late last year, when the drugmaker and the University of Oxford published trial data with two different efficacy readings as a result of a dosage error.
Britain’s chief drug regulator, June Raine, said the benefits outweighed the risks for the most part but were more balanced for younger people – whose risk of coronavirus infection was, on average, lower.
Wei Shen Lim, chair of COVID-19 for the UK’s Joint Advisory Committee on Vaccines and Immunization, said it is preferable for adults under 30 who do not have an underlying health condition to be offered another vaccine.
AstraZeneca said it was working with UK and European regulators to list the possibility of cerebral blood clots as a “very rare potential side effect”.
Among the possible causes of the rare cerebral sinous vein clot being investigated is that the vaccine triggers unusual antibodies in rare cases or a possible link to birth control pills. However, there is no definite evidence.
Andreas Greinacher, a scientist from Germany’s Greifswald University said his work showed that neither birth control nor clotting factor mutations played any role.
Many experts say it’s unclear whether or why the AstraZeneca vaccine will cause problems other vaccines that target similar parts of the virus don’t have.
Reporting by Francesco Guarascio, Kate Kelland, Alistair Smout, John Miller, Toby Sterling, Bart Meijer, Anthony Deutsch, Pushkala Aripaka, Stephane Nebehay and Josephine Mason; Written by Nick Macfie and Philippa Fletcher; Edited by Kevin Liffey and Peter Cooney
BERLIN / ZURICH (Reuters) – An example of an extremely rare clotting condition in women under 60 who received the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine was 20 times higher than would normally be expected, said Christian Bogdan, a member of Germany’s vaccines committee, on Wednesday.
His comments came as the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and British medical regulators acknowledged a possible link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and rare blood clots and low blood platelet counts. The EMA conducted an in-depth review of 86 cases, including 18 deaths.
Most of these occurred in women, but with a total of 169 cases reported to the EMA after 34 million doses were administered, such cases appear to be extremely rare. In comparison, four out of 10,000 women will experience blood clots from using oral contraceptives.
Bogdan did not specify how many cases of blood clots with low blood platelet counts to expect in the normal population, but said the higher prevalence in one population group over the designated time period represented “a very clear risk signal”.
“We looked at how many cases occurred in the community as background events, and compared them with cases observed between four and 16 days after vaccination,” he told an online briefing.
“When you take that into account, then you achieve an observed to expected ratio … 20 (times higher) in women aged between 20 and 59 years,” she said.
The German committee recommended last week that people under 60 who have received one injection of AstraZeneca should get a second dose of another vaccine.
Health experts also said at the briefing, organized by the Science Media Center, that more research is needed to find what can predispose people to clotting with low blood platelet counts, as well as the exact mechanisms that lead to them.
One explanation, cited by members of the German vaccine committee on Wednesday, suggests the AstraZeneca vaccine is associated with the production of an unusual antibody that activates blood platelets and causes rare clots; other researchers are investigating the link to birth control pills.
Andreas Greinacher, a scientist from Germany’s Greifswald University whose team has linked antibodies to the rare clot, said his work showed that neither contraception nor a clotting factor mutation, called Factor V Leiden, played any role.
“Many people fear having one of the underlying prothombotic conditions such as hormonal contraceptive use or having Factor V Leiden, but all of these factors do not modulate the risk of these antibodies,” Greinacher told Reuters. “It’s not a game changer at all.”
ROME (Reuters) – Italy will now recommend the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine only to people over 60, the country’s top health adviser said after European regulators discovered a possible link between the vaccine and rare cases of blood clots.
Health Minister Roberto Speranza took the decision after consulting with experts and “other institutional figures,” Franco Locatelli, head of Italy’s Superior Health Council, told reporters on Wednesday.
Locatelli says people who have taken the first dose of AstraZeneca can continue with the second dose. Officials said the government recommended that the product be avoided for people under 60 but did not prohibit it.
“Anyone who wants to be vaccinated with AstraZeneca can continue to be vaccinated,” said Giovanni Rezza, another member of Italy’s health council at the same press conference.
More than a dozen countries are simultaneously suspending the use of the vaccine, which has been given to tens of millions in Europe.
Most have continued but some, including France, the Netherlands and Germany, have set minimum ages for their use. Locatelli said Spain had also decided to set a minimum age on video calls with other ministers on Wednesday.
Italy initially restricted AstraZeneca to people under 65 because trials showed that it offers less protection against COVID-19 than other vaccines. On March 8, the health ministry said it could also be given to those over the age of 65.
Reporting By Gavin Jones, editing by Angelo Amante