Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly has responded to concerns over the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine arguing that once regulators approve the vaccine, Australia will be a prime position to achieve herd immunity.
Some of Australia’s medical community have raised concerns that the AstraZeneca vaccine does not meet the efficacy standards to effectively counter the CCP virus citing a report published in The Lancet in December 2020 that said the vaccine efficacy ranged from 62 to 90 percent.
Kelly noted that the Australian government was collecting more data beyond the Lancet report and that the Therapeutic Goods Administration was giving it a thorough assessment.
“We’ve had three more months of data that will be available to the TGA, and more data from the real-world information that’s coming from the UK, in particular, who are already rolling out that vaccine. So, we’ll look at that, we’ll wait for that,” Kelly told ABC News Breakfast on Wednesday.
“One thing is clear though from those interim results is that this vaccine is very effective against severe disease. Just exactly the same as the Pfizer and the Moderna data,” he said.
The other advantage is that the vaccine will be made in Australia.
The CSL facility in Melbourne, Victoria will deliver 3.8 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine for the early part of this year, and then manufacture another 50 million after, “plenty to vaccinate the entire population of Australia twice” according to Kelly.
He added the rollout is expected as soon as the TGA has approved the viral vector vaccine, which is likely to be in about four weeks.
Logistically the Australian-made vaccine will be easier to roll out than the Pfizer mRNA, which requires importing and maintaining a temperature of minus 70 degrees Celcius.
This comes as the World Health Organisation’s Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan said that we could not expect to reach herd immunity this year globally.
“We are not going to achieve any levels of population immunity or herd immunity in 2021,” said Swaminathan it may happen in a few countries but not across the world.