SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia on Monday approved the Pfizer-BioNotech COVID-19 vaccine for use, but warned of AstraZeneca’s international production problems, which means the country has a planned local built The shot will need to be delivered.
The country’s medical regulator Pfizer-BioNTech was among the first in the world to meet widespread acceptance of the vaccine, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday, noting that it was a year when the first local coronovirus case was detected.
Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters that vaccination of priority groups with the Pfizer vaccine was expected to begin at the end of February at 80,000 doses per week.
Pfizer had told the Australian government that it anticipated continued supply, but would provide global production guidance “in mid-February and on a weekly basis”.
The Australian rollout update comes after AstraZeneca plc told EU officials that it would reduce delivery of its vaccines by 60% in the first quarter due to production problems.
Hunt said AstraZeneca had advised Australia that the company had “suffered a significant supply setback and therefore meant that we would not have as much of an AstraZeneca international as they had previously promised” in March.
The AstraZeneca vaccine is yet to be approved by Australia, which expects to begin a domestic supply of CSL of the AstraZeneca vaccine in March, which is 1 million doses a week, compared to previously planned.
“The decision to pay a premium through CSL for an onshore, safe, sovereign vaccine manufacturing capacity, which puts Australia in a safer position than almost any other country in the world,” Hunt said said.
Australia has set a target of 4 million vaccine doses by April. It has also committed to supply vaccines to Pacific island countries on subsequent timetables.
The Pfizer vaccine has been provisionally approved for Australians aged 16 and older by the Pfizer Vaccine Administration (TGA).
Australia will give each recipient two doses of the vaccine at the recommended time.
Quarantine and border personnel, border health workers and aged care and disability staff and residents will be the first group to receive the vaccine.
There have been no new cases of community broadcasting in Australia in the past seven days, and there are no Australians with coronovirus in hospital security units. Hunt protested globally over the past 10 days with six million cases and lost 125,000 lives.
“That comparison is almost unbelievable, where we are in Australia and overseas, there is a difference,” he said.
To ensure that Australia abruptly suspended its travel bubble for 72 hours with New Zealand on Monday and ordered all those who had been isolated from 14 January and were to be tested, Community in the months after New Zealand confirmed its first case of COVID-19.
“This will be done out of caution while learning more about the incident and the case,” Hunt told reporters.
There were just 28,800 cases in Australia last year, an overwhelming majority in the state of Victoria, and 909 deaths.
Reporting by Kirsty Needham and Byron Kay; Additioanal Reporting by Sonali Paul in Melbourne; Editing by Diane Craft and Sam Holmes