Tuesday, 19 October 2021
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Aged Care, Senator Colbeck. Can the minister update the Senate on how Australia's COVID-19 vaccination rollout is supporting our national plan to safely reopen the country and, further, how Australia's vaccination rates compare with those of other countries around the world?
I thank Senator Small for his question. As a very proud Western Australian, I can understand him being very interested in vaccination rates. By the end of today we will have administered over 33 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Australians. Australia's COVID-19 vaccination program has continued to accelerate, as we said it would. In the last month, over 7.8 million doses of vaccine have gone into the arms of Australians around the country, and we thank each and every Australian for rolling up their sleeves to get the jab.
I am delighted to report that 85.1 per cent of the population aged over 16 are now protected against COVID-19 with at least one dose and 69.2 per cent of the population over the age of—
We've, in fact, passed them, Senator, if you'd been taking notice. We've actually even passed Israel, which you tried to quote in the chamber. As these numbers show, Australians recognise that vaccination is the best way to protect themselves, their loved ones and their country.
In the context of cases this year versus last year and the impacts that we've seen, last year there were 28,424 cases of the virus in Australia, 2,051 of those in aged care. This year there have been 118,851 cases, 681 of those in aged care. The difference between this year and last year is vaccination. The message is very clear: the vaccines work. The message to Australians is to get vaccinated.
Very proudly, Senator Watt. I'm very happy to report that the vaccination rollout continues strongly for 12- to 15-year-olds. In just over a month, 59.6 per cent of 12- to 15-year-olds have been vaccinated with a first dose and 23.7 per cent have been fully vaccinated with their second dose—fully vaccinated. That is an extraordinary effort, and I thank all of them and their families for, again, jumping on board and rolling up their sleeves to protect themselves and their communities in this pandemic.
As for the five- to 11-year-old age group, Australia's medical regulator the Therapeutic Goods Administration has provided a provisional determination which allows Pfizer to submit its application for five- to 11-year-olds. As soon as that data is received, it will be assessed.
The government continues to work to support Australians in the fight against COVID-19, including with additional treatments. In recent times, we've secured access to two additional treatments. Under a new agreement with Roche Products Australia, we'll be supplied with 15,000 doses of the COVID-19 antibody based therapy Ronapreve. Ronapreve is expected to be targeted for use in unvaccinated people who are at risk of developing severe disease.
In addition, the Australian government has secured access to 500,000 treatment courses of Pfizer's COVID-19 oral antiviral drug. This treatment is still undergoing clinical trials. It is expected to help reduce the severity or onset of illness. It's expected to be available next year.
Australia has also secured an advance purchase agreement for 300,000 courses of the promising oral COVID-19 treatment for— (Time expired)