Thursday, 4 February 2021
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Health. Will the minister please update the House on Australia's vaccine rollout and on what the Morrison government is doing to protect Australian lives and livelihoods and create a stronger Australia?
I want to thank the member for Boothby, in particular for her advocacy for a national stillbirth action plan, along with members right across both chambers. I would also acknowledge the member for McMahon. There are many people contributing to an extremely important outcome to save lives. Savings lives, of course, is what our COVID response has been about in Australia—all of the work being brought together by so many people not just across the chambers but across the country. Today, we've seen one community case; around the world, 439,000 cases. Today, fortunately, we've seen no lives lost, as was the case right throughout January. Sadly, almost 14,000 lives have been lost around the world, and over 400,000 lives have been lost around in the world in January. Against that background of a pandemic which is wreaking enormous damage, the vaccine becomes critical globally and in Australia.
Shortly before question time, I was delighted to join the Prime Minister, along with Professor Brendan Murphy, the head of the Science and Industry Technical Advisory Group on vaccines, to announce that Australia had purchased an additional 10 million doses of the Pfizer mRNA vaccine. The option of additional doses was built into the contract when we prepared and developed it. The advice on vaccine purchasing, which we have followed throughout, came from Professor Brendan Murphy's team, with Professor Paul Kelly, the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Allen Cheng, the Deputy Chief Health Officer in Victoria, and many other distinguished leaders in Australia. We exercised that option once the approval was given by the TGA, as was always the plan. Throughout this, we have been working to a plan on containment and capacity. Within the capacity element, we have been working on the vaccine's strategy. That strategy has now seen us acquire 150 million doses—three times that needed to vaccinate the whole of the population with a shot on two occasions. That is now 20 million Pfizer doses, 53.8 million Oxford-AstraZeneca doses, 51 million Novavax doses and 25½ million doses through the COVAX facility. Significantly, we have followed that advice. It's very important that we continue to do that, based on the best expert medical recommendations to the government. We'll continue to do that.
I also have advice today from both Pfizer and AstraZeneca that we remain on track for the rollout commencing in late February and early March respectively, and this will help save lives and protect lives.