AUSTRALIA is still on track to receive the COVID-19 vaccine early in 2021, despite the United Kingdom granting emergency approval to one of the world’s leading jabs.
The UK approved Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, a jab Australia has already secured 10 million units of, alongside 30 million of the AstraZeneca vaccine, 40 million of the Nova vaccine and 1 million of the University of Queensland’s vaccine.
“We welcome the news overnight of the next phase of the global development for the rollout of a safe, effective vaccine globally,” Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.
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“Australia is doing magnificently but we won’t be truly safe at home until the world is safe and that is why vaccines at home and abroad are so important.
“We are on track for decisions with the early vaccines by the end of January. We are on track for first vaccinations beginning with our health workers and our aged
care residents subject to approvals in March.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison moved to assure Australians that the vaccine will only be distributed when governing bodies deem it to be suitable for widespread use.
“Our first priority is that it be safe,” Mr Morrison said.
“Australians know there aren’t easy fixes to the challenges we face as a country and they expect governments to wrestle with the pressures that are facing our country and seek to strike the right balance.”
Therapeutic Goods Administration Adjunct Professor John Skerritt said Australia was in a good position to make a decision on the rollout by January and the decisions won’t be rushed.
“I’ve been asked which of the three courses are leading the race but it changes by the date and it often depends on the progress and completion of clinical trials run globally,” Skerrett said.
“This government did the sensible thing of investing in a range of technologies.
“While the early results from several technologies are very promising, it will give us and, more importantly, healthcare professionals a range of options.
“Let’s say for example wonder vaccine is better tolerated in pregnant women. We’ll have that option because we have invested in a range of vaccines.
“So I want to reassure the Australian public that safety, as well as performance, efficacy, and the quality of these vaccines is front of mind.”