Australia has doubled its Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine order, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, as the country rushes to revise its inoculation plan amid concerns about the risk of blood clots with the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Until Thursday evening, Australia based its vaccination schedule largely on one injection of AstraZeneca, with an order of 50 million doses – enough for the two injections required for all of its 25 million. inhabitants – to be done nationally by biopharma CSL Ltd.
But Australia has now joined a host of countries in restricting the use of the vaccine due to clotting issues. Local health officials changed their recommendation to say that nearly 12 million people under the age of 50 in the country should take the Pfizer product instead.
As a result, Australia doubled a previous order from Pfizer to 40 million shots, enough for four-fifths of the population, which would be delivered by the end of the year, Morrison said.
Pfizer’s policy change effectively ends plans to have the entire population immunized by the end of October.
“This is not an AstraZeneca vaccine ban,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra after a national cabinet meeting to discuss the response to the virus.
“For those who are over 50, there is a strong incentive to take this AstraZeneca vaccine.”