Thursday, 18 March 2021
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Aged Care, Senator Colbeck. This morning the president of the European Commission indicated the previous blockage of exports of the vaccine to Australia would not be a one-off. Does the Minister for Health stand by his previous assurance that the European Commission blocking the international shipment of vaccines will 'not affect the pace of the rollout'?
I thank Senator Brown for her question. We are in a very fortunate position in this country in that we have a sovereign capacity with respect to the manufacture of vaccines. In this country, we will have approximately 50 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine that will be made in Australia, and they will start coming online later this month. That capacity will continue to ramp up. As that capacity ramps up, so will the vaccination rate and the supplies that we distribute to providers, out to our vaccination processors around the country. So our vaccination process in this country is largely reliant on our sovereign capacity. We have other capacities, of course. We continue to receive regular shipments of Pfizer vaccine, and of course those are being applied through the process.
Senator Watt interjecting—
I will take Senator Watts's interjection. We continue to receive, based on our schedules, our supplies of Pfizer vaccine. And we are extremely fortunate that we have contracted the local manufacture of 50 million doses of Australian-made AstraZeneca vaccine, which will start ramping up as of later this month and through April. Next week, over 1,000 GPs will start the vaccinating process, increasing to over 4½ thousand during April. So the supplies will increase based on our sovereign manufacturing capacity, and the ramping up of the vaccination process will continue as that sovereign capacity comes on supply. And later in the year we will look to other supplies being available as they go through the appropriate approval processes. (Time expired)
On Tuesday, the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Aged Care said:
Other vaccines may come online to support the vaccination of Australians as the approval process continues …
What other vaccines was the minister referring to? What negotiations are underway to secure these other vaccines?
It would be really good if Labor listened to what has been said by the government over a period of time, rather than trying to misrepresent it in the chamber. As I've said in the chamber before, and as the Minister for Health and Aged Care has also said in the chamber before, we have access to 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine. We have access to 50 million doses of vaccine that are being manufactured in Australia. We are looking to the potential for 51 million doses of Novavax, pending its regulatory approval. This has been well publicised over a period of time, and of course we also have access to 25.6 million doses through the COVAX structure. So there are a number of other sources of vaccine to make up that 150 million doses that we have coming onstream. As those are approved and become available— (Time expired)
Given the effect on the economy and jobs of the slow and bungled rollout of the vaccination program, is the Morrison government now reconsidering ending JobKeeper in just 10 days?
I completely reject the premise of the question. We have continued to grow and build the rollout of the COVID vaccines across this country, as we said we would, in line with available supply. We're in a very enviable position in this country. We have been able to start the vaccination process with a full assessment of each of the vaccines that we're applying by our world-leading Therapeutic Goods Administration. Instead of the relentless negativity of Labor, who seek to undermine confidence in the vaccination process, it would be good if the Labor Party decided to support the process and continue to work with the government in the interests of Australians to ensure that they have available a vaccine, which they will.