Monday, 15 February 2021
Questions without Notice
COVID 19: Vaccines
My question is to the minister for health. Will the minister please update the House of the Morrison government's response to COVID-19, including the vaccine rollout, and how this approach will ensure a stronger Australia and save lives?
Thank you very much to the member for Reid, particularly, for her work as a health professional taking care of the emotional needs and the psychological needs of Australians, before coming to this place. One of the important pieces of news today, before we get to the vaccines, is that I'm advised there are now no Australians in ICU for COVID-19 reasons, anywhere. These numbers, of course, may change over the course of the coming months, but as of this day we've seen zero lives lost in 2021 due to COVID in Australia—but, sadly, the world has reached approximately 2.4 million lives. We now have no Australians in ICU or on ventilation due to COVID and, significantly, we have had only one case today in the community, one case in Victoria, and none in seven out of eight states and territories, so a very important result nationwide.
Another important thing to happen, as the Prime Minister has set out, is that the first shipment of vaccines has now arrived in Australia, 142,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Of those, which will now be taken by the TGA and they'll be assessed to make sure that safety, quality and there's no damage, no breach, of the integrity of them during the course of the transmission—that they've all been maintained. Subject to that, we will then be in a position to ensure that we have 62,000 doses provisioned for second doses in continuous supply and that we have 80,000 doses available, commencing on 22 February—Monday of next week—around Australia for the vaccination program.
That program will begin with the most vulnerable, a combination of the border and quarantine workers, our frontline health workers, and our aged-care and disability residents and staff. That's about ensuring that those that are the most at risk of contracting and transmitting or those that are most at risk from the consequences of the illness are dealt with in that first phase. It's expected that first phase will take, approximately, six weeks. Subject to the Therapeutic Goods Administration making a positive decision on the AstraZeneca vaccine, we are then expecting that AstraZeneca international vaccines will add to that and double the number of weekly vaccines, in early March, if not earlier, and then this will be added to by the CSL production, coming out of their Parkville plant, of a million doses a week from late March. I've been advised that that fill-and-finish process commenced today. So today's an important day. It's the next step in protecting Australians, in saving lives and protecting lives.