Tuesday, 16 February 2021
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Health and Aged Care. Can the minister please update the House on the latest developments in the COVID-19 vaccine TGA approval and how all Australians can be confident in the Morrison government's vaccine rollout?
I want to thank the member for Mackellar, particularly for his support of the community during the lockdown of the Northern Beaches in encouraging them to come out and be tested in, I think, pretty much record numbers. That has helped keep them safe.
The next step in keeping Australians safe is the rollout of the vaccine, and today we had the Therapeutic Goods Administration approve the AstraZeneca vaccine. That's important. It follows the European Medicines Agency. It follows the advice overnight of the World Health Organization in endorsing and providing their own approval. These are very important steps for the safety of Australians, for the protection of Australians, for the confidence of Australians and, therefore, for the uptake of the vaccine.
In particular, what's especially important is the protection that is made available from the AstraZeneca vaccine. An article published in the esteemed Lancet journal on 3 February was reported as saying:
COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca confirms 100% protection against severe disease, hospitalisation and death in the primary analysis of Phase III trials.
The World Health Organization said overnight that the AstraZeneca vaccine was 'shown in clinical trials to be safe and effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19, with no severe cases and no hospitalisations more than 14 days after the second dose'. As a world, we're learning more about these vaccines. One of the things we are learning is the degree of success and prevention against serious illness, hospitalisation and loss of life.
This comes with the announcement yesterday that the Pfizer vaccine has now landed on Australian shores, is being assessed in terms of its quality and its integrity and is due for rollout next Monday to Australians. The importance of that is that we will begin, as the Prime Minister said, with over 240 aged-care facilities expected to be inoculated in the first week. That means that, at the same time, we'll be supporting our quarantine and border workers and assisting those who are supporting Australians in our hospitals—our frontline health and medical workers. All of these people either are at risk of contracting and retransmitting the disease or are our most vulnerable Australians, and they will be those to whom we turn first to give them the support and the vaccine. But today is another important day in saving lives and protecting lives.