CANBERRA, Australia (AP) – Australia said on Friday it had concluded an agreement to buy an additional 20 million doses of Pfizer vaccine as it shifted rapidly from previous plans to primarily rely on AstraZeneca vaccines.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a deal just hours after stating that Australia would stop using the AstraZeneca vaccine for people under 50.
He said the deal means Australia will receive a total of 40 million doses of Pfizer vaccine by the end of the year, enough to vaccinate 20 million of the 26 million people.
Australia̵7;s pivot came after the European Medicines Agency said this week it found. A “possible link” between the AstraZeneca vaccine and the rare blood clot, although regulators in the UK and the EU emphasize that the benefits of getting the vaccine are still greater. Risk for most people
Following the European agency’s announcement, Australia’s drug regulator held a series of urgent meetings on Thursday and recommended Pfizer vaccine to become the preferred vaccine for people under 50.
Morrison said there are no contraindications to AstraZeneca vaccination and the risk of side effects is far away. He said the change was due to extreme caution.
The pivot represents a significant shift in Australia’s overall approach and is likely to delay plans to have everyone vaccinated by October.
A key part of Australia’s strategy is the ability to produce the vaccine at home and not rely on overseas delivery. It is planning to produce 50 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine, enough for 25 million people. Australia does not plan to do any other vaccines at home.
Even before the shift, the government has faced criticism for its backward launch program in most other developed countries.So far, Australia has only provided 1 million doses of the vaccine.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese said the launch was a collapse and Australians needed confidence when they were vaccinated.
“This government has failed. The government was unable to grow shoko grapes as a backyard, ”the Albanian told reporters, referring to the pear-shaped crop that is easy to grow in Australian climates.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said some adjustments would be made. But everyone will be safe and will be vaccinated.
Australia has managed to block the spread of the virus in the community, allowing life to continue as much as before the outbreak.
AstraZeneca noted that Australia’s decision to limit the use of the vaccine was based on the absence of community transmission.
“Overall, regulators have reaffirmed that the vaccine offers a high level of protection against all the severity of COVID-19 and that these benefits still outweigh the risks,” the company said.