Australia needs to secure more vaccines in case the AstraZeneca jab doesn’t give the population heard immunity, a top doctor has warned.
Epidemiologist Zoe Hyde from the University of Western Australia said the government needed to ‘urgently diversify our vaccine portfolio’ and should prioritise securing the Moderna vaccine.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration on Monday approved the Pfizer vaccine and is expected to give the Oxford/AstraZeneca one the green light soon.
Epidemiologist Zoe Hyde from the University of Western Australia said the government needs to ‘urgently diversify our vaccine portfolio’ and should prioritise securing the Moderna vaccine
Dr Hyde said health authorities and the government should turn their focus on building herd immunity by using Moderna in preference to the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine
Novavax is also being considered, but there is no deal in place for the Moderna, which Dr Hyde said needed to be quickly remedied.
‘Its absence from Australia’s strategy is puzzling. Like the Pfizer product, it’s a high efficacy vaccine but doesn’t have the same ultra-cold storage requirements,’ she told The Australian.
‘It can be stored in a standard freezer for up to six months, or in a refrigerator for 30 days.
‘That means we can easily roll it out in regional and remote Australia. Canada is already using the Moderna vaccine in their remote Indigenous communities.’
The Pfizer coronavirus vaccine will be the first one administered in Australia with the first jabs set for late next month.
The TGA found it met strict standards around safety, quality and efficacy
The Morrison Government is confident that is on track for late February, but has conceded there is a possibility a delay in shipping or production could push it to early March.
Dr Hyde said health authorities and the government should turn their focus on building herd immunity by using Moderna in preference to the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
‘Not only does it have superior efficacy, it’s a more reliable long-term option. It will prevent more disease, and has a better chance of delivering herd immunity, which should be our aim,’ she said.
Regulatory reviews for the AstraZeneca and Novavax vaccines are ongoing
Dr Hyde also called on health officials to put together a plan for dealing with emerging mutations.
She said we are seeing the beginning of an ‘antigenic drift,’ which means it’s only a matter of time before the vaccine needs to be updated and booster shots will be required.
Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said Moderna had been unwilling to sign an agreement with Australia over supply of the vaccine.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday said the approval of the Pfizer vaccine is an important step in the fight against coronavirus.
‘Australians should take confidence in the thorough and careful approach taken by our world-class safety regulator,’ he said.
‘Our priority has always been to keep Australians safe and protect lives and livelihoods.
‘Today’s approval is another big step forward for our community, particularly in the protection of our most vulnerable people.’
Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said Moderna had been unwilling to sign an agreement with Australia over supply of the vaccine
The rollout will begin across 30 to 50 hospital sites covering aged care and disability residents and workers, frontline healthcare workers, as well as quarantine and border workers.
It will then expand to 1,000 vaccine administration sites as the five-phase rollout widens across the population.
TGA boss John Skerritt said the regulator’s job was far from finished.
‘The monitoring of vaccine safety post-approval is an important part of the regulatory review of vaccines,’ he said.
‘We now check the individual batches of vaccines that are destined for Australians while closely monitoring the safety and efficacy of the vaccine as it is rolled out.’
Monday marks one year since the first coronavirus case was diagnosed in Australia, which has since had more than 28,700 cases and 909 deaths.
This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk