Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that Australia will receive a further 4 million Pfizer vaccine doses in a swap deal with the United Kingdom.
“The plane’s on the tarmac now, it will be leaving tomorrow, and those doses will be coming over the course of the next few weeks,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra on Friday.
“From Downing Street to Down Under, we are doubling down on what the Pfizer doses are here in Australia this month,” he went on to say.
This comes just days after the prime minister secured a similar deal with Singapore for half a million Pfizer doses, and is in addition to the 1 million doses purchases from Poland.
“I said I would leave no stone unturned. And I can tell you I’ve been turning over some stones in recent times, to ensure that we can progress the vaccination program as quickly as we possibly can,” Morrison said.
The doses from the UK will be distributed around the country on a per capita basis, with Morrison declaring the extra doses would significantly bring forward the opportunity for Australia to open up again under the National Plan.
Morrison also thanked UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson for his “great friendship” with Australia, saying they had discussed this plan for “some time.”
He described the swap deal as being mutually beneficial for both countries. “It’s a good deal because it makes the most of the doses that they have now, which we need, and the doses that we’ll have later, that they will need,” he said.
“It’s a good deal between mates,” he went on to say.
Buoyed by the millions of additional Pfizer doses, Morrison noted that of the 20.3 million vaccine doses that had already been administered in Australia, about 10 million were AstraZeneca.
“We are now at the point where 80 percent of over 50s have had their first dose,” he said, noting they would, in the weeks ahead, get their second dose and be considered fully vaccinated.
The prime minister encouraged people, particularly those over 60, to get the AstraZeneca vaccine jabs.
“Let’s keep this going Australia because, at these rates, we are really going to be able to hit the marks that we all want to hit in the weeks and months that are ahead,” Morrison said, referring to the national cabinet’s phased plan to achieve 70-80 percent vaccinate rates in order to reopen the country.