The Australian government has announced that despite the UK’s emergency approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, Aussies still won’t receive the jab until at least March next year.
Regulators in the UK approved the Pfizer and BioNTech SE vaccine for emergency use, meaning it could be rolled out as early as next week, as Britain’s death toll nears 60,000.
The Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, said the government welcomes the emergency approval, particularly given the over 1.6 million cases in the UK.
“I have again spoken to the Australian CEO of Pfizer, they remain on track for vaccine delivery once it is approved for use in Australia by the independent regulator,” Hunt said.
“Pfizer continues to work with the Therapeutic Goods Administration, providing data for safety and efficacy as part of the approval process.
“Our advice remains that the timeline for a decision on approval is expected by the end of January 2021, and our planning is for first vaccine delivery in March 2021.”
Therapeutic Goods Administration, John Skerritt, told ABC RN Breakfast the UK and US were operating on a very different timeline to the Australian Government
“They’re not approvals that those two countries are talking about, they’re emergency use authorisations, and they’re really reflecting the desperate situation of those countries,” Skerritt said.
“We have to remember on many days, day after day the US is having more deaths than we’ve had in the whole year of the pandemic here in Australia, so it reflects the desperate situation of those countries and these authorisations require the delivery of the vaccine to be very tightly and closely monitored.”
In November, Pfizer and BioNTech SE announced their vaccine candidate BNT162b2 was found to be more than 90 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19 in participants without evidence of prior infection.
The vaccine is one of four that the Australian government has signed on to purchase if it works.
According to Pfizer, the vaccine consists of a two-dose schedule, meaning those seeking vaccination will receive two injections, three weeks apart.
The 90 per cent figure comes from the company’s phase three clinical trial, which kicked off in July with more than 43,000 participants.
However, according to ABC News, the vaccine’s 90 per cent ‘efficacy’ doesn’t measure how well it stops a vaccinated person from catching the virus, but its ability to stop or at least reduce the severity of COVID-19.
In other words, it lowers your chances of getting sick by 90 per cent, compared with an unvaccinated person.
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