Sydney, Australia, Jan 25 (efe-epa).- Australia on Monday approved Pfizer/BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine, the first to get the green light in the country.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), which provisionally approved the distribution of the vaccine for an initial period of two years for people aged 16 and over, said that it “meets the high safety, efficacy and quality standards required for use in Australia.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison told journalists in Canberra on Monday that the “approval is another big step forward for our community, particularly in the protection of our most vulnerable people.”
The leader also reported that the vaccine, which was to be given to priority groups such as healthcare and border workers in mid-February, will rolled out at the end of next month due to challenges in “production and delivery for both AZ [AstraZeneca] and Pfizer around the world.”
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine needs to be stored at minus-70 degrees Celsius.
Health minister Greg Hunt said that the rollout would begin with the distribution of at least 80,000 doses of the vaccine per week. It will not be mandatory.
“We are in the fortunate position of having secured 140 million doses of vaccine, one of the highest per capita rates in the world,” he said.
The distribution of almost 54 million doses agreed with the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, which will also be produced mostly locally, will begin in March, once given the green light from the Australian authorities, which have also signed agreements to obtain vaccines from Novavax and the Covax facility.
The Pfizer-BioNTech approval was announced on the anniversary of the first case Covid-19 in Australia, which has now gone almost a week without any local infections and has accumulated more than 28,760 cases of this disease since the beginning of the pandemic, including 909 deaths.
Most of the Covid-19 cases occurred due to an outbreak at the end of June of local infections in the city of Melbourne, believed to be as a result of alleged failures in quarantine hotels for international arrivals. EFE-EPA