Australia

Australia to soon have access to one million Pfizer doses a week as supplies are brought forward

Australia will soon have access to up to one million doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines per week, with supplies of the jab set to triple.

The country currently has between 300,000 and 350,000 Pfizer vaccines doses a week to administer.

That will jump to one million a week in the second half of July.

And then In August, Australia will receive 4.5 million doses of Pfizer vaccines, which is significantly more than first anticipated.

The boost is not due to extra supplies. The 4.5 million doses were previously expected in September, and are now being brought forward by a month.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is confident the bringing forward of doses will give his government’s troubled vaccine rollout a shot in the arm.

And with another 1300 GPs joining the rollout to deliver the Pfizer doses, he believes the rollout can be completed by Christmas.

“We really are hitting the marks we need to hit,” Mr Morrison told ABC radio on Friday.

“We’ve done a lot of catch-up, particularly over the month of June, and that’s seen us now hitting the levels we need to get this job done and have everyone offered a dose by the end of the year.”

Pfizer has promised Australia 40 million doses of the vaccine.

Pfizer is the recommended vaccine for people aged under 60 so the boost to supplies should improve vaccination rates.

Just 10 per cent of Australians aged over 16 are fully vaccinated with two doses.

Deputy Opposition Leader Richard Marles said the brought-forward Pfizer supplies were desperately needed.

“We need those doses because the prime minister promised we would be at the front of the queue and in fact we’re languishing at the bottom of the OECD ladder,” he told the Nine Network.

AstraZeneca latest

Meanwhile, Australians under lockdown in NSW have been urged to get their second AstraZeneca dose within eight weeks of their first jab.

Sydney is in the grips of an ongoing outbreak, with NSW reporting 44 new local coronavirus cases as the city and surrounds prepare for at least a third week of stay-at-home orders.

A 12-week gap between AstraZeneca jabs has been recommended as the most effective way to protect people.

But Mr Morrison wants people in the worst-affected areas who have received a first jab to make second dose appointments closer to eight weeks.

This was consistent with the advice of the national expert immunisation panel ATAGI, he said on Thursday.

In the three Sydney councils areas with the most infections, about half of those aged over 70 have received a first dose.

An extra 300,000 AstraZeneca – which is recommended for people over 60 – and Pfizer vaccines will be made available for NSW.

But Nancy Baxter, the head of the University of Melbourne’s school of population and global health, said 12 weeks remained the recommended AstraZeneca interval.

“We don’t really know how effective it is at eight weeks,” she told the ABC.

The clinical epidemiologist says the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation should be advising on vaccines, not Mr Morrison.

“It’s not time for politicians to be making recommendations about vaccination,” she said.

Epidemiologist Mary-Louise McLaws said the first AstraZeneca dose offered 33 per cent protection, while a second jab increased the figure to 60 per cent.

Professor McLaws supports bringing second doses forward but said the need for a booster shot later was likely.

“If we start it moving away from that 12 weeks then your antibody response may not be as good as it could be,” she told the ABC.

“But given that we are in dire straits at the moment with Delta, we don’t want it to go across any state borders, we don’t want to go to the elderly, it’s a good idea.”

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