Australia to distribute COVID-19 vaccine from March

Sydney, Australia, Nov 11 (efe-epa).- The Australian government plans to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine from March next year, its health minister said Wednesday during the announcement of an agreement for cold-chain logistics with the pharmaceutical company Pfizer.

“We have secured that for Australia… to deliver vaccines to Australians, commencing in March 2021,” Greg Hunt said, noting that the country, with around 25 million inhabitants, has already agreed to acquire more than 130 million of doses of four different vaccines, as reported national broadcaster ABC.

Hunt said the government has signed an agreement to guarantee the special cold transport and distribution of about 10 million doses of the BioNtech-Pfizer vaccine, which needs to be kept at a temperature of -70 degrees Celcius.

Pfizer this week announced promising trial results, with early indications from late-stage testing showing a more-than-90 percent efficiency rate.

“While, again, the advice is today that we may well have another zero community transmission case day for Australia… we nevertheless have to be aware that we will not be out of this until we have a nation which has had a full vaccination program,” Hunt said.

The minister also said that the Australian government and the Therapeutic Goods Administration, the country’s health watchdog, have sped up the process to approve Pfizer and Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccines, if they are shown to be safe and effective.

Australia began producing 30 million doses of the British AstraZeneca vaccine this week at the Melbourne-based CSL laboratory, in addition to the 51 million doses that are still being tested by the University of Queensland.

The Oceanian nation has also signed an agreement for the acquisition of 40 million doses of the vaccine developed by the American pharmaceutical company Novavax.

Australia has accumulated some 27,678 infections and 907 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, of which 20,345 infections and 819 deaths correspond to the southern state of Victoria, the epicenter of the second wave of COVID-19 in the country. EFE-EPA


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