Monday, 21 June 2021
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Aged Care, Senator Colbeck. Last week the minister was asked why the Morrison government failed to secure an early agreement for Pfizer vaccines when it had the chance some 12 months ago. The minister took this on notice, so today, Minister, can you inform the Senate of your answer, please?
Thanks, Senator Sterle, for the question. You're correct: I have taken the question on notice. An answer to that question is being prepared and will be provided to the chamber.
Can the minister confirm that, by the time Australia took delivery of its first shipment of Pfizer, at least 44 other countries had already begun inoculating their citizens with Pfizer?
Australians would recall that what occurred in this country is that we took a very deliberate approach to the rollout and the approval of vaccines. We didn't, as happened in many other countries, have emergency approvals for the vaccine rollout. We waited and asked our approval agencies to fully approve the vaccines before we started administering them. We took advantage of the experience in other countries to understand what was happening with the vaccines and for that data to be utilised as a part of our approval process. We took a process where we would be able to say to the Australian people that we had undergone a full and thorough assessment of each of the vaccines before they were approved. I think that that was an appropriate thing for us to do.
Honourable senators interjecting—
That information with respect to the number of doses available—of both Pfizer and AstraZeneca—was provided to state and territory premiers as a part of the national cabinet meeting this morning. I am happy to provide that information to the chamber. I will come back to the chamber as soon as possible with that information, because that information hasn't been given to me off the back of the national cabinet meeting this morning.