AstraZeneca vaccine is approved in Australia as government prepares to administer the first jabs on Monday
- AstraZeneca vaccine joins Pfizer vaccine in being approved in Australia
- The government will make doses at the CSL factory in Melbourne
- The Pfizer jab will hit arms on Monday after 142,000 doses arrived in Sydney
The Therapeutic Goods Administration is only the second regulator in the world – after the European Medicines Agency – to give the jab full approval after dozens of countries such as the UK rolled out the jab early under emergency approval.
The AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved for use in Australia in adults over the age of 18.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration announced the approval shortly after 12pm on Tuesday. Pictured: A vaccination in Belgium
Aussies will be given two doses of the vaccine, which was produced at Oxford University, three months apart.
It is not yet clear if it will stop mild infection and transmission, which could be crucial to re-opening the country’s border.
The vaccine will stop everyone who gets it from dying of Covid and will stop 82 per cent of people from getting seriously ill due to the disease.
Australia has ordered the vaccine from overseas and it will arrive in early March.
‘The vaccine has met requirements for standards, for safety, quality, and efficacy, and will be provided free to Australians,’ Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
The government aims to vaccinate four million people by April and everyone by October.
The government is also making one million doses per week at the CSL factory in Melbourne, with the first local batch due in late March.
The AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved for use in Australia in adults over the age of 18. Pictured: A vaccination in Peru
Health Minister Greg Hunt said the vaccine was safe and encouraged Australians to take it.
On Monday 142,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which has also been approved, arrived in Australia on a Singapore Airlines flight.
‘The team at the TGA that have worked extraordinary hours to tick every box, to assess everything, to make sure that safety, safety, safety, is the number one priority,’ he said.
Pallets of the Pfizer vaccines – which are stored at -70C and were made in Belgium – arrived at Sydney Airport on a Singapore Airlines plane just after midday.
They will be checked and transported around the country, with the first jabs hitting arms on Monday at 240 aged care facilities.
‘Today is an important day. It is the next step in a careful plan based on safety, and this is about protecting Australians.’
‘The eagle has landed,’ jubilant Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters on Monday.
Pallets of the Pfizer vaccine arrived in Sydney just after midday on Monday, with photos showing them being loaded of a plane ready for transport
Australia’s first 142,000 does of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine have arrived in the country
Roughly 50,000 doses will be given to the states and territories who want to vaccinate quarantine workers as soon as possible and 30,000 will be used by the federal government for aged care residents and workers.
Mr Hunt said the vaccines will undergo ‘security and quality assurance, in particular to ensure that temperature maintenance has been preserved throughout the course of the flight, to ensure the integrity of the doses, and to ensure there has been no damage.’
Mr Hunt said the decision to make the AstraZeneca vaccine in Australia was crucial given the global supply shortage.
The remaining 62,000 vaccines will be kept aside to administer as second doses, 21 days after the first dose.
The vaccines will be temperature and quality checked before being distributed to vaccine hubs around the country
‘I think the two most important decisions for Australia during the course of this pandemic were closure of the border with China and the decision to invest in onshore manufacturing by CSL of the AstraZeneca vaccine,’ he said.
Australia has secured 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which is enough to vaccinate 10 million people.
Hospitals were told to prepare to start vaccinations next week after the Therapeutic Goods Administration conducts batch testing on some of the first vials.
Logistics firm DHL will help with the transportation of the vaccines using dry-ice filled boxes.
The vaccines must be kept at minus-70 degrees Celsius to preserve the mRNA responsible for inducing coronavirus immunity.
Earlier on Tuesday Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton warned that hotel quarantine for returning Australians may still be required even with everyone vaccinated.
The first Australian shipment of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines is seen being transported off the tarmac after landing at Sydney International Airport
‘If we had, for example, 100 per cent coverage with our vaccine, there are still five per cent who won’t sero-convert, who won’t get really good immunity, so there may be requirements for quarantine and isolation in those circumstances as well.’
‘We don’t know yet. That’s a long, long way away. There’s not clarity or certainty around the transmission,’ he said.
The Pfizer vaccination approval does not cover people under the age of 16, but it has no upper age limit. The medical regulator says the benefits of the vaccination for people over the age of 85, or those who are frail, should be weighed against potential risk of even a mild response.
Everything Aussies need to know about the vaccine roll out
* What about Australians under the age of 16?
* How many do we get?
Age limits for the AstraZeneca vaccination will be outlined in the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s approval.
* Where will they be administered?
Both vaccines are two doses – so Australians will get two at least 21 days apart. They will need to be from the same company.
* How can Australians prove they’ve been vaccinated?
General practitioners and pharmacies have put their hand up to be involved, and there’s expected to be pop-up clinics at current COVID-19 testing centres and hospitals.
* How many vaccines has Australia ordered?
Jabs will be recorded on the Australian Immunisation Register. Certificates proving vaccinations will then be available either digitally or in hard copy. The government says this might be needed for interstate and overseas travel.
WHICH VACCINES AUSTRALIA HAS SECURED:
Australia has secured more than 150 million doses of various vaccines, including almost 54 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, with the vast majority to be manufactured in Melbourne. As well as more than 51 million from Novavax.
20 million doses – enough to vaccinate 10 million Australians
Australia has ordered 51 million doses but it is still in the trial phase
53.8 million doses
University of Oxford:
The Australian Government has joined the COVAX Facility as part of a global effort to support rapid, fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. This participation enables us to purchase vaccine doses for Australia as they become available
University of Queensland:
This includes the Moderna vaccine, CureVac, Inovio and others
Australia had ordered 51 million doses. However, the deal has been scrapped after trial participants returned false positive results for HIV