Four million extra Pfizer-BioNTech (Pfizer) vaccine doses will begin arriving in Australia in days following a historic partnership between the Australian and United Kingdom governments.
The doses will be batch tested and immediately distributed across the country on an equal population basis.
The dose sharing partnership benefits both countries and will see Australia receive four million Pfizer doses from UK supplies in September, with Australia sending four million Pfizer doses to the UK from Australian supplies in late 2021.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said no stone was left unturned in the global search to find additional vaccines and urged Australians to step up and get vaccinated.
“This deal is a game-changer for our vaccine roll out,” the Prime Minster said.
“Millions of Australians will now be able to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated sooner as we follow our National Plan to safely reopen.
“With this significant supply boost, I want to work with our GP network and state run vaccine hubs to slash vaccine wait times and get Australians vaccinated sooner.
“Australia has no greater friend than the UK and I would like to thank the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson for his deep commitment to Australia and his personal and direct engagement on this partnership agreement. I would particularly like to thank Pfizer for their support in executing this agreement.”
This deal comes on top of the agreements with Poland and Singapore with Australia now receiving nine million Pfizer doses in September. One million Moderna doses are also expected this month.
With the nation only two million doses away from achieving the 70 per cent first dose vaccination coverage, Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt encouraged all Australians to get vaccinated.
“We are getting vaccinated in record numbers, seven million people rolled up their sleeves throughout the month of August,” Minister Hunt said.
“Every vaccination can protect somebody's life, and bring us closer to the freedoms we enjoy.
“This dose sharing agreement is mutually beneficial in that it allows UK doses that otherwise might have expired to be brought forward for use now in Australia. Equally, the UK will be able to access an equivalent number of doses later in the year at a time that will assist with their booster or other related programs.
“Along with the Singapore agreement this dose sharing agreement with the UK approximately doubles Australia’s access to Pfizer in September. It means that the balance and burden of the vaccination program will have shifted from October and November to August and September.
“I particularly want to thank my UK counterpart Health Secretary Sajid Javid who has been deeply engaged throughout the process and without whom it would not have been possible. I also want to thank our Chief Negotiator Lisa Schofield and Professor Brendan Murphy from the Department of Health,” Minister Hunt said.
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women Marise Payne said Australia's network of diplomats are focussed on supporting Australians at home and abroad.
“The UK and Australia have always been there for each other and cooperation during the pandemic is no exception,” Minister Payne said.
“I want to thank my UK counterpart, Foreign Secretary Raab. As partners and longstanding friends, the UK and Australia face challenges together and are stronger as a result.”
Pfizer is now available for Australians aged 16-39 with bookings for 12–15 year olds open from 13 September, in line with the COVID-19 vaccination plan and expert medical advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI).
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) will provide regulatory approval for these Pfizer doses from the UK through the same TGA batch release processes as with all other COVID-19 vaccines to ensure their quality and safety.
Doses from the UK will be distributed around Australia on an equal population share basis, with 60 per cent being distributed through the primary care network and 40 per cent through the state based vaccination clinics.
There are no purchase costs associated with these deals.
The doses from the UK will ensure Australia continues to ramp up the vaccine rollout program, with more than seven million doses delivered over the past month. More than 20 million doses have now been delivered across the country, with more than 1.9 million doses delivered over the past week.
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