Well, it's a huge day also in our pandemic recovery with six million Australians now eligible for the COVID vaccination.
But the all-important phase 1b of the roll-out has hit a stumbling block, with the flood crisis impacting deliveries. Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Michael Kidd, joins us from Canberra. Thank you so much for your time, Professor. How much of a stumbling block is the weather at the moment?
Well of course, across the rest of the country the vaccine roll-out will be happening as anticipated over the coming week. We do have some delays in the areas affected by the extreme weather, particularly in New South Wales. We've had practices where we haven't been able to yet deliver the first doses of the vaccine because roads are closed, and of course, we have some practices which themselves have had to close.
Obviously, safety first is paramount at this time. So, once it's safe and the roads are reopened, those deliveries will take place and people in those areas will be able to start getting their first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Professor, you'd know that some of the GPs haven't been happy with the roll-out. They've been prepared to accept many more than the 50 or 80 doses that we have had featured on our show with some of the GPs. They want more of it and they want it now. How long will it be before it's delivered to them?
Well, the good news is that yesterday the Therapeutic Goods Administration approved the CSL facility which is delivering the AstraZeneca vaccines within Australia. TGA will now go through its batch testing of the first batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine that has been produced by CSL, and we hope that those vaccines will start to be delivered, either later this week or early next week. Once CSL is online, they'll be producing a million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine each week.
So, we hope that we'll be able to ramp up the number of vaccines going out to general practices. This week we'll have 2500- sorry, 250,000 doses going out to 1000 general practices and over 100 general respiratory clinics across the country. That will ramp up to well over 400,000 doses a week going out to 4500 general practices right across the country.
That is a huge development overnight, a very big step forward. Talking about that million doses that they'll be able to produce locally, will that be immediately? Or will they have to work up to that figure?
We are expecting that that will come online really quite quickly. So, we hope that that will be happening over the next few weeks.
Also, the European Union has been quite mischievous over the last 24 to 48 hours, as you'd know, saying that there's not going to be many vaccines delivered outside of their areas. Does that hurt us in any way, shape or form in the next weeks?
Well, what it may mean is that there may be some disruption to the supply of Pfizer vaccine, which we are reliant on shipments from overseas. But with the CSL facility coming online, it means that we are now self-sufficient for the AstraZeneca vaccine. So, this is an incredibly important development for Australia in the roll-out of the vaccine and tackling COVID-19.
All right. Great stuff, Professor. Thank you.