There is growing hope that Australians could be receiving a vaccination against coronavirus within just months.
Health Minister Greg Hunt says the country is on track to start rolling out a vaccine in March 2021, following promising early results from recent trials.
Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, Minister Hunt revealed Australia was “well ahead of schedule”.
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“It’s well ahead of expectations, we are well ahead of schedule, we are on track to deliver vaccines to Australians commencing in March of 2021,” he said.
“That is extremely important news… we wont be out of this until we have a nation which has had a full vaccination program, but we are on track to deliver those vaccines.
“Our goal, our intention and our expectation is to ensure that every Australian who seeks to be vaccinated, will be vaccinated during the course of 2021, and that is extremely important for jobs and for livelihoods,” Minister Hunt said.
Australia has now secured 10 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine from the US, which is expected to be delivered once it’s approved.
The Pfizer vaccine is what’s called an mRNA vaccine, which means it needs to transported at an icy temperature of minus 70 degrees.
However, Minister Hunt confirmed that would not be an issue, with Australia already nabbing a deal with the US pharmaceutical giant for “full cold chain logistics distribution for the Pfizer vaccine.”
It’s understood it involves the use of “sophisticated eskies” which require dry ice and last for 14 days.
“The world has never had an mRNA vaccine, it’s expected that it will require a cold chain of minus 70 degrees, we have secured that cold chain for Australia,” Minister Hunt said.
“And in addition, we now have the first two vaccines on the provisional determination pathway and I’ve been advised this morning that not only are the other two vaccines that we’ve acquired expected to take part in that, but there are additional vaccines from around the world that we are enquiring about using this breakthrough Australian regulatory process.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the early results from Pfizer are “very promising”.
“These results are very promising and I am optimistic and hopeful about next year, about the rollout of those vaccine programs,” he said.
However, the Prime Minister did reassure Australians that vaccinations would only be made available once they are determined to be completely safe.