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

ISKHANDAR RAZAK:     

For more, the Commonwealth's Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, Alison McMillan, joins us from Canberra. Good morning to you. Thank you for your time.

ALISON MCMILLAN:      

Good morning.

ISKHANDAR RAZAK:     

This 3.1 million doses that the Government says was blocked but EU says it hasn't been blocked, where are they? And why aren't they here?

ALISON MCMILLAN:      

Okay. Well, we did anticipate that we would have 3.1 million doses additional to what we currently received. I understand that the relevant ministers are negotiating with the European Commission on this supply we had anticipated which was part of our planned rollout. So these negotiations, I understand, are continuing, but obviously we have had to modify our approach as we haven't had quite as much as we had anticipated from Europe, but now we're seeing our domestic supply rollout which is of course really encouraging.

ISKHANDAR RAZAK:     

It sounded like there were 3.1 million doses sitting in an airport somewhere ready to come in, but there aren't, are there? Where are they? I don't understand.

ALISON MCMILLAN:      

Well, there are many countries competing for the supply and, again, as I have said, these are negotiations that continue with the European Commission and we're hopeful that we will be able to see some of that supply. Particularly we have asked for 1 million to be released for humanitarian purposes so we can provide that vaccination program in PNG. As we know PNG has seen quite a significant outbreak.

ISKHANDAR RAZAK:     

There's an argument and negotiation with the EU for millions of doses. That's one aspect. What else is being done to address this shortfall? A shortfall of millions of doses.

ALISON MCMILLAN:      

As we have been talking, we now know that 830,000 has been provided through our domestic supply and we anticipate we'll reach our first 1 million doses from that either this week or the week after. The rollout therefore is dependent so much on supply but it's important that TGA approve each of these batches. It's a part of our really rigorous safety programs across the country for this AstraZeneca produced here. So as more supply becomes available, we'll continue to roll it out through the programs, through the states and through the general practice you have seen in recent weeks. We have certainly seen a big increase last week, particularly in those being rolled out through general practice.

ISKHANDAR RAZAK:     

I'll take you up on the batches that are awaiting testing. 2.5 million, I think, had CSL in cold storage waiting for tests to be complete. Why don't we have a streamline testing process? What's the hold up in testing in getting 2.5 million doses out into the community?

ALISON MCMILLAN:      

It's not a hold-up, it's a part of the process of ensuring the safety of this vaccine. So as the process comes off through production, each batch is tested by the TGA, as I have said, and when it's secure and safely ready for supply, it will go out through our supply networks. And that's a process that we are taking very carefully and considered as part of the entire program as you know. We have been- safety has been our focus.

ISKHANDAR RAZAK:     

Why not just buy more Pfizer vaccine? Why not just buy another vaccine? Why are we so heavily reliant on AstraZeneca?

ALISON MCMILLAN:      

Well, we negotiated a range of contracts with three suppliers, and as you know we're currently working with two. And we're working with what we've got available, but always since November last year, the domestic supply of AstraZeneca has been part of our program and that's going to be part of our ongoing program for the rest of the year.

ISKHANDAR RAZAK:     

Alison McMillan, Commonwealth Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, thank you so much for your time.

ALISON MCMILLAN:      

Thank you very much.

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