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

LISA MILLAR:                        

Well, let's get more on Australia's vaccine rollout now. And Professor Michael Kidd is the acting Chief Medical Officer and he joins us now from Canberra. Good morning to you. Thanks for your time again on News Breakfast. I know yesterday in the press conference you said that the vaccine rollout was being handled effectively but every day there seems to be criticism, and today it's pharmacists, it's the ACT Government suggesting there needs to be stadium-style vaccination hubs. It does [audio skip] people wonder exactly what is going on and whether they are getting the truth about this vaccine rollout?

MICHAEL KIDD:                   

Well, as you know, last week we had 1500 general practices, the Commonwealth-funded general practice respiratory clinics and Aboriginal medical services rolling out the vaccine. We reached record numbers. We've actually tripled the number of doses of vaccine being delivered to the people of Australia over the last two weeks. This week we will have an additional 1500 sites coming online over the coming weeks. So by the end of this week, we'll have over 3000 sites where people can receive the vaccine right across the country. That will continue to rise over the next few weeks up to over 4000 sites by the end of April. So there are many sites. This has always been a program which is going to be ramped up over time and more and more opportunities for people to get their vaccines, particularly to get vaccines from their own local general practitioner if they choose or from other sites located conveniently near to where people are living.

LISA MILLAR:                        

Australians have seen the vision from overseas in churches in the UK, in stadiums in America, it being done swiftly, getting it out there. Why are you ruling that out for Australia?

MICHAEL KIDD:                    

We're not ruling that out. So we're working with the states and territories on the additional sites which the states and territories will continue to be setting up. We've already seen the plans from New South Wales. And each state and territory is looking at what is the best way to meet the needs of their local population and to get the vaccine out to the people of Australia. If you look at the equivalent figures, you know, we're told about the Americans delivering a million doses a day, well, population wise we're actually delivering the equivalent of more than that at the moment here in Australia and it is continuing to rise.

LISA MILLAR:                        

When are we going to know at what point CSL will be able to deliver a million doses a week?

MICHAEL KIDD:                    

Well, CSL already now has produced 2.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Those doses, of course, go through the quality checking by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, the batch checking. And then as each batch has finished its checking, they're being distributed out to the general practices and the other sites that I've mentioned. CSL production capacity is continuing to increase and will continue to increase over the weeks ahead.

LISA MILLAR:                        

So you don't know when we will be able to be rely on a million doses coming from CSL, which the government was counting on?

MICHAEL KIDD:                    

Well we already have many hundreds of thousands of doses coming out of CSL each week over recent weeks. And as I've said, in the couple of weeks since we've been rolling out the AstraZeneca vaccine through general practices, we've got 2.5 million doses which have been completed already.

LISA MILLAR:                        

How many meetings going on behind the scenes about the concern over blood clots? We were just talking to Norman Swan about this; I understand advisory groups here in Australia are talking to their international colleagues. But just what is the level of concern behind the scenes?

MICHAEL KIDD:                    

Look, clearly, we are very concerned. This is why, over the weekend, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee met a number of times. We had an emergency meeting of the Australian Technical Advisory group of Immunisation and a meeting of the independent experts group setup by the Therapeutic Goods Administration to look at that report of the man in Melbourne on Good Friday. So there's been a lot of activity over the week. We are expecting the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation to meet again tomorrow. There have been ongoing discussions with our colleagues from the European Medicines Agency, the regulator for the European Union and the regulator in the United Kingdom. So I think we will hear more about this tomorrow.

LISA MILLAR:                        

[Audio skip] comfortable at the moment, there are people getting injections today around Australia?

MICHAEL KIDD:                    

Absolutely. So we have to put this in perspective. What we know is that if this- if the AstraZeneca is linked to this particular blood clotting disorder that's being reported overseas, occurring in one to two people per 1 million. What we also know is that the risk of death from COVID-19 is one to two people per 100. So the benefits of the vaccine and the rollout of the vaccine far outweigh the risks of this possible side effect. However, it is really important that people have the information so that they can make an informed decision as to receiving the vaccine at this time.

LISA MILLAR:                        

Professor Michael Kidd, great to have you on the program. Thanks for your time.

MICHAEL KIDD:                    

Thank you very much.

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