Date published: 
21 August 2020
Media event date: 
19 August 2020
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

MICHAEL USHER:

The Prime Minister Scott Morrison spent the day spruiking a deal which could see all Australians vaccinated for free. So, what are the chances of the vaccine working and when can we expect to see it distributed? Well, Angela Cox spoke with the Deputy Chief Military Officer Nick Coatsworth earlier. Ang.

ANGELA COX:

Michael, the Prime Minister wants to make the vaccine mandatory, as much as that is possible. But there are some concerns about whether it will be safe given the trials have all happened so quickly. I started by asking Dr Nick Coatsworth if the Oxford University trial is successful, when we might see the vaccine.

            [Excerpt]

NICK COATSWORTH:

I mean, we’re going to get it as quick as we can after the vaccine's proved to be both safe and effective. Like all these things, the time frame is just accelerated at the moment and we are going to be doing it as quick as humanly possible. This letter of intent is a critical step along that road.

ANGELA COX:

Which Australians will be prioritised to receive the vaccine first?

NICK COATSWORTH:

Well, we know in pandemic planning that there is a sense of need to prioritise people who are severely affected, who are vulnerable, who are at risk. And then there is a principle of reciprocity, where people who are putting themselves at risk, be they healthcare workers or residential aged care workers, disability support workers, these are all groups that you would consider vaccinating first. That's the general principle but those decisions will be made by all the key expert committees and they will be clearly communicated to the Australian public who I think will understand.

ANGELA COX:

The Prime Minister wants the vaccine to be mandatory. Do you think it should be mandatory?

NICK COATSWORTH:

Well, I think there will be a strong demand from the Australian people that we take every step to ensure that as many people are vaccinated as possible. And I think that's what the PM was reflecting today.

ANGELA COX:

You don't think there will be a backlash if people feel like they are being made to take this vaccine?

NICK COATSWORTH:

I think the first step is always going to be to educate and convince. And that I suspect my view is that that will lead to a very high proportion of Australians being vaccinated.

ANGELA COX:

What sort of measures do you think could be taken? Could people not be allowed to go to restaurants or go into certain businesses if they haven't had the vaccine? Would we need vaccine passports?

NICK COATSWORTH:

So, I think the initial mechanisms that we've got in place, things like No Jab No Pay, these have been clear elements of the Government's policy to increase vaccination uptake. New policies like a vaccination passport, that almost harkens back to the old yellow fever days where you had to get the yellow fever stamp to get in and out of countries. So, whilst nothing specifically on the table at the moment, nor is there as the PM said today anything off the table, and every option we have to increase those vaccination numbers will be taken into account, but the most important thing I think is to convince Australians that this is going to be safe, effective and that we can keep them safe while the vaccination program rolls out.

ANGELA COX:

You have said yourself this is happening extraordinarily quickly. In the past it's taken a minimum of 10 years for a vaccine to be deemed safe. This has taken a few months. Is that a concern? Do we need more time to make sure it's safe?

NICK COATSWORTH:

So, those lengthy processes weren't just to make sure that the vaccine was safe, of course, it was about manufacturing, taking the vaccine to large trials. And there wasn't the impetuous to actually do things in a rapid fashion. I think what COVID-19 gives us is the chance to put all these things into hyper drive.

ANGELA COX:

So would you, or would you let your kids or your mother and father get this vaccine straight off the ranks?

NICK COATSWORTH:

I'm going to do exactly what all Australians are going to do, which is watch closely at the phase three trials, watch the safety and the effectiveness data, and will make our decision then. And I'm confident, I'm really confident that the scientific community will produce a safe and effective vaccine and our family will be up there getting our jabs.

ANGELA COX:

Okay. Thank you so much for your time Dr Nick Coatsworth.

NICK COATSWORTH:

Thank you.

            [End of excerpt]

ANGELA COX:

Michael, it will be interesting to see just how quickly the rest of Australia is to get in line. The Prime Minister says 95 per cent of us need to get the vaccine for it to be really effective.

MICHAEL USHER:

A bit more testing to go. Ange, thank you for that.

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