As the first UK residents next week prepare to receive the COVID Pfizer vaccine next week, Australians have been told to sit tight, with a roll out expected in March next year. For more, I'm joined by Therapeutic Goods Administration Chief, Professor John Skerritt. Good morning to you Professor. Why does Australia have to wait for this vaccine?
Good morning, Eddy. Well, we are fortunately not to be in the dire situation like the UK or US is at the moment. Overnight, for example, in the US, more than three times as many people died as have sadly passed away for the whole year in Australia. So, their situation is very much a genuine emergency. These countries have provided, or will provide, interim authorisations based on the limited data they have now. We’re waiting to get a little bit more data about the safety and the performance of the product, we want to know which groups of patients it works best in. Different vaccines may work differently in different groups. Because our situation is fortunately so much better than the UK, we’re able to spend that extra couple of months and get performance data on maybe another hundred or 200,000 patients. And therefore we can assure the safety and performance of the product in Australia.
Professor, does the UK effectively now act as a test run for the rest of the world?
I wouldn't want to call them guinea pigs, but in a way they are a test run, because it will be the first group of people who will be given the vaccine outside clinical trials. Now, they’ll start with healthcare workers, frontline workers who are usually younger and they will also start with the oldest, the over 85s and the older 80s. And so we'll get a lot of very valuable information on how well the vaccine works in those two quite different groups of people.
Alright. Professor John Skerritt, thank you so much for your time this morning.