Two elderly people in an aged care home in the state of Queensland have been given four times the correct dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine just days into Australia’s rollout of its CCP virus immunisation strategy.
The 88-year-old man and 94-year-old woman, both residents at the Holy Spirit Nursing Home in Brisbane, the state’s capital, are being monitored but have not shown signs of an adverse reaction at this stage.
The man was admitted to St. Andrews hospital in Brisbane while the woman was monitored at the nursing home.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said early on Wednesday morning that the deputy chief medical officer would review the events and file a report.
“The rollout continues. There will be cases. There will be challenges. This has happened in other jurisdictions overseas,” Hunt told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.
But Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the incident was “very concerning” and has written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison to request a national cabinet meeting to discuss the roll-out strategy.
“The Federal Government is responsible for the roll-out of the vaccine in aged care and they’re using private contractors to deliver it,” she said in a statement.
Palaszczuk revealed that the actions of a nurse prevented the privately contracted doctor from administering more incorrect doses.
The doctor responsible for the overdoses has resigned.
“Although this happened yesterday morning, Queensland authorities were only advised late last night,” Palaszczuk said. “Discovering these details now is simply not good enough.”
The premier is demanding answers about the training provided to those administering vaccinations at aged care facilities and wants the government to release details about when they are vaccinating people, and the numbers. “Because Queenslanders deserve to have full confidence in this vaccine,” she said.
Sky News reported that Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly told reporters that the incident was a case of “maladministration.”
Kelly said that during early clinical trials researchers experimented with different doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine, including at fours times what is now the prescribed dose.
“During those trials, the side effect data was not a higher problem, and so there’s that element,” he said.
“Second of all, as has been mentioned by the minister, we are aware of several cases like this happening early in the phased rollout through residential aged care facility equivalents in both Germany and the UK.
“Again, the side effect profile was minimal, particularly in older people, so that gives us hope,” he said.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration cleared the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for use in elderly Australians but noted that for frail patients over the age of 85, the TGA had limited research data on its effects, and it should be carefully assessed on a case-by-case basis.
The TGA’s statement on this came after 30 out of 40,000 elderly people in Norway died after receiving the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
“The deaths were recorded among very frail patients, including some who were anticipated to only have weeks or months to live,” TGA said on Feb. 2.
A recent Department of Health survey of 4,000 people showed that 27 percent of Australians were hesitant about receiving the vaccine, preferring to wait to see if side effects emerge in others.