Signalling yet another major milestone in Australia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, 300,000 doses of the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine have arrived in Sydney today.
Australia has secured 53.8 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. The first doses of this vaccine have arrived from overseas ahead of 50 million doses to be manufactured by CSL here in Australia on behalf of AstraZeneca.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) will now batch test the vaccines to ensure they meet Australia’s strict quality standards.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said today was a significant milestone for the vaccine rollout.
“This is the next step as we ramp up the vaccine rollout,” the Prime Minister said.
“The University of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine will undergo the same rigorous TGA process to batch check the vaccine that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine underwent.
“We will now be able to scale up the vaccination rollout to our priority groups, including our most vulnerable Australians and to our frontline border and health workers.
“Most Australians will receive the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, with the rollout of these due to commence from 8 March 2021 – provided they clear the TGA’s rigorous batch testing process.
“Australia is in a unique position because importantly this vaccine gives us the ability to manufacture onshore. Every Australian who wishes to be vaccinated will be able to receive a vaccine this year.”
The approximately 300,000 doses that arrived this morning will be distributed via logistics partners DHL and Linfox, and made available to priority groups in Phase 1a.
A further 50 million vaccines will be manufactured onshore and 1 million of these doses will be delivered each week from late March.
For AstraZeneca the second dose of the vaccine will be administered at 12 weeks after the first dose.
On 15 February 2021, the World Health Organization said, “This regimen was shown in clinical trials to be safe and effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19, with no severe cases and no hospitalisations more than 14 days after the second dose.”
On 3 February 2021 the Lancet Journal said, “COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca confirms 100% protection against severe disease, hospitalisation and death in the primary analysis of Phase III trials.”
Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt said this vaccine provides the option for the majority of Australians to get their vaccination through their usual GP, local respiratory centre and eventually community pharmacies.
“Importantly the TGA has conducted a full and thorough, and world class assessment process,” Minister Hunt said.
“As the rollout begins, the people in priority groups who need the most protection will receive a vaccine first. This includes aged care and disability care residents and workers, frontline healthcare workers, and quarantine and border workers.
“Having AstraZeneca available in Australia provides an easier avenue for distribution across the nation, meaning people in rural, regional and remote areas will not have to travel as far to receive their vaccine.
“The cold chain requirements of this vaccine – it can be stored and handled in the same way as any other vaccine – make it a very good candidate for a country like Australia.
“As well, vaccine providers can use some of the vaccine vial, put the rest back in the fridge for 48 hours and use the rest the next day.
“This will save lives and protect lives.”
Australia has maintained a diverse portfolio of vaccines, and we are constantly engaging with international counterparts and vaccine sponsors to access the best available information on vaccine developments worldwide.
Pending TGA approval, the Government has also secured 51 million doses of the Novavax vaccine.
The Australian Government has also signed up to the international COVAX facility, which provides access to a range of vaccines to immunise up to 50 per cent of the Australian population.
This diverse portfolio ensures access for everyone in Australia, and is likely to equip us to support our neighbours in the Pacific and Southeast Asia.
The University of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is the second vaccine to receive provisional approval for use in Australia by the TGA. The TGA bases such decisions on the safety, efficacy and quality of the vaccine candidates.