Date published: 
1 April 2021
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

NEIL BREEN:         

Yeah. The vaccine rollout sparked a war, didn't it? The states ganged up on the Federal Government, and the Federal Government ganged up on the states - even Queensland and New South Wales, our Governments were unlikely allies. They were angry about many things that have occurred. But let's try and get to the bottom of it now, with Deputy Chief Health Officer, Professor Michael Kidd. He's on the line. Good morning to you, Professor.

MICHAEL KIDD:   

Good morning, Neil.

NEIL BREEN:         

All this warring it's just- I suppose it's annoying the public when they just want to hear the truth? And know when they're going to get a vaccine, and how the rollout is actually going.

MICHAEL KIDD:   

Yes. Look, I think that's really important that we are all working together. Obviously, Australia's very successful response to combating COVID-19 has been based on a successful partnership between all levels of government, and of course, with the roll-out of the vaccine there are also many other players involved. A huge thanks to the many tens of thousands of Australians who are involved in the rollout of our vaccine right across the country.

We now have 1500 general practices which are delivering that vaccine, and that'll rise up to over 4500 practices over the next few weeks. We've now had over 700,000 doses of the vaccines delivered. Good news, over 100,000 people who were residents in residential aged care facilities have received, at least, the first dose of their vaccines, and that's more than 50 per cent of our aged care residents. And we're now tracking around 72,000 doses being delivered a day, and that will be rising over 400,000 doses a week over the next few weeks. So, the rollout is certainly gathering a very significant pace, and again, huge thanks to everybody involved in this very complex exercise.

NEIL BREEN:         

Professor Kidd, the target from the Federal Government was four million by the start of April - we're at the start of April, we've got 700,000 as you just said. What did slow it up? Was it the European Union getting in the road of our vaccines? Did we not get approval for the ones were producing out of the laboratory in Victoria? We're supposed to get one million AstraZeneca's a week, produced there. What slowed it up?

MICHAEL KIDD:   

Look, you're exactly right, Neil. The big factor has been the uncertainty of supply from overseas, and the decisions to start to block shipments of vaccines from Europe coming to other parts of the world, including Australia. We were expecting another 3.2 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to have arrived in Australia from overseas. But fortunately, as you point out, we now have the CSL facility in Melbourne which has started to rollout the local production of the AstraZeneca vaccine. We've had a number of batches, of over 200,000 doses which have been released by CSL, and those doses are now being distributed around the country. So, we will be continuing to pick up the pace of vaccinating people across the country. We expect to have covered the six million people in phase 1b, the very vulnerable people in Australia, by the middle of the year. And by the middle of the year to be starting to roll out the vaccine to people in phase 2, by age groups.

NEIL BREEN:         

So, middle of the year when, sort of, I think there was a target of May. You're saying now might be maybe, maybe June, you think, for that six million?

MICHAEL KIDD:   

Yes. So, certainly looking at the middle of the year, I can't give you a precise…

NEIL BREEN:         

Yeah.

MICHAEL KIDD:   

… figure, because of course, it does depend on continuing supplies. We're still reliant on the Pfizer vaccine shipments from overseas, that's not a vaccine which we're currently able to produce in Australia. But, we have received another couple of shipments of the Pfizer vaccine, which is great, because that's going out and protecting the very vulnerable people living in aged care facilities.

NEIL BREEN:         

Professor Kidd, just quickly. There was a sort of disagreement between the states and the Federal Government over who was responsible for the second dose. Is the Federal Government responsible for keeping the second dose? And should the states just be giving the vaccines they've got?

MICHAEL KIDD:   

Yes. Look, that's correct. The Federal Government is holding back contingency supplies to ensure - particularly with the Pfizer vaccine, because the Pfizer vaccine requires two doses, three weeks apart and it's very important that people get the second dose if they're going to have a sustained immune response and sustained protection against COVID-19.

NEIL BREEN:         

Okay. Deputy Chief Health Officer, Professor Michael Kidd, thanks for joining us on 4BC Breakfast and filling us in on what is actually going on. I appreciate it.

MICHAEL KIDD:   

Thanks so much, Neil. And a safe Easter to everybody.

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