Australia has obtained an additional 20 million doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine, following a decision to abandon AstraZeneca injections for much of the population.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed the strengthened order – which will bring Australia’s total doses of Pfizer to 40 million – after a national cabinet meeting on Friday.
The additional doses will be in Australia at the end of 2021.
“It is expected that these 20 million additional doses will be available in the fourth quarter of this year, this is our current instruction, and we will
obviously doing all we can to get things done where we can, ”said Mr. Morrison.
The additional order follows a late night for federal health authorities after the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (ATAGI) ruled on Thursday that the AstraZeneca vaccine should not be given to people under the age of 50 unless “The benefit clearly outweighs the risk to that person’s situation.”
The change in advice follows rare cases of blood clotting in some who received their first injection of AstraZeneca, including a man from Melbourne.
But the explosive decision to restrict AstraZeneca firing to people over 50 in Australia disrupted the country’s national immunization program, which was heavily dependent on local vaccine supplies.
There were also concerns that it would further delay the rollout of the vaccination after October, and that lockdowns and international border closures would extend until 2022.
In a hastily called press briefing on Thursday evening, Mr Morrison said the vaccination schedule is expected to be “recalibrated” over the weekend following the change. On Friday, following Pfizer’s announcement, he said Australia had made four deals to buy vaccines.
“Australia has entered into four separate agreements for the supply of COVID-19 vaccines and these include agreements with Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Novavax and COVAX,” he said.
“These agreements now total up to 170 million doses.”