Australia lags behind in race to secure future Pfizer doses

Australia is slipping behind other developed nations in securing booster shots of the Pfizer vaccine.

Federal health minister Greg Hunt says Australia is set to receive 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine between now and the end of the year, to be delivered at a rate of 1 million per week.

A further 66 million vaccine doses from other suppliers are set to begin arriving in 2022. They will be predominantly made up of 51 million doses from Novavax and 15 million from Moderna. Both the Novavax and Moderna vaccines use similar messenger (mRNA) technology to the Pfizer model.

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Mr Hunt says he is confident the federal government has secured enough doses for the nation based on the medical advice received, but concedes that advice is still subject to change.

“At this stage, we have very significant numbers, more than enough to vaccinate the nation,” he said. “And one thing which has not been determined is whether a booster would be a one-shot or a two-shot program. So those are medical questions to be determined over the coming months.”

But The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the European Union and Canada have been busy securing much larger deals with Pfizer to cover the years ahead. The EU, in particular, has secured a contract to buy more than 2.4 billion doses of the Pfizer jab, which is more than double the amount needed to cover the population.

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Canadian officials inked a deal for 125 million Pfizer vaccines in 2023 and 2024, with an option for a further 60 million doses in 2025. That’s more than three times its total population.

The revelation comes hot on the heels of the ABC report claiming former prime minister Kevin Rudd had spoken directly with Pfizer global chief executive Albert Bourla in an effort to secure earlier access to the vaccine for Australians. The report stated Mr Rudd spoke with Mr Bourla at the behest of a group of leading US-based Australian businesspeople.

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Both the federal government and representatives from Pfizer Australia say the report is inaccurate, and Mr Rudd denied in a tweet that he had claimed any responsibility for the arrangement with Pfizer or for the overall vaccine rollout.

Meanwhile, COVID cases in NSW have decreased, with 89 new locally acquired infections detected in the 24 hours to 8pm yesterday – but a man in his 70s has died and the virus has spread to the state’s regions.

Victorian authorities have added to the list of exposure sites after two people who returned from NSW on red zone permits were discovered to have COVID-19 and two of three removalists who were in Melbourne also tested positive for the virus.

There are now more than 10 locations on the list, including an apartment complex, a supermarket and a service station.

The Herald Sun reports that Victoria’s COVID commander, Jeroen Weimar, has hinted that the crew did not follow strict restrictions placed on them.

“There was a permit in place and the permit has very clear obligations within it … we have special worker permits and a special freight code, which is all about enabling that cross-border movement to continue … what we need people to do is comply with the obligations in those permits,” he said.

What is your view of the federal government’s handling of the vaccine rollout? And of the stoush between Kevin Rudd and the federal government? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Written by Brad Lockyer



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