Scott Morrison has revealed that a deal has been struck for Australia to receive 500,000 additional doses of the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine from Singapore next week, in exchange for an Australian backorder of the same amount to go to Singapore in December.
The prime minister held a press conference on Tuesday to share the news Australia’s vaccine supply would be topped up, with the deal seeing December’s procurement to be brought forward to this month. The announcement follows another deal Australia recently made with Poland to purchase doses of Pfizer surplus to that country’s needs.
“[That is] 500,000 more doses of hope which comes on top of the some four and a half million that we already have planned for September and the 1 million Moderna doses and the many other millions of doses that are available from our AstraZeneca production to ensure that we can continue on in September with the strong [vaccination] surge that we had over August,” the pm said.
With outbreaks of the Delta variant and the associated necessary public health measures to curb further community transmission, vaccination rates around the country have grown. This uptick is also the result of the vaccine program finally opening up to younger members of the national population aged under 49. Now children 12 and over will be permitted to access vaccines against COVID-19 in Australia too.
“I said we would leave no stone unturned in bolstering our vaccination programme,” Morrison said of Australia’s slow vaccination program beleaguered by supply issues dating as far back as March this year.
“This deal gives us the further supplies we need as we bring new groups into the programme for Pfizer, including 12 to 15 year olds from September 13, and the 16 to 39 year old age group that has already commenced,” he said.
Health minister Greg Hunt said that the federal government was ‘working every day to bring forward vaccine supplies’ so that more Australians can access a shot by the end of the year. He added that there was no cost associated with the latest deal with Singapore and that the Pfizer doses were manufactured in Belgium.
“With increasing supply we encourage all Australians to come forward and be vaccinated at more than 9,300 locations around the country,” Hunt said.
Once batch testing of the doses by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is complete, all Australian jurisdictions will receive a share in the extra Pfizer shipment, to be distributed by primary care, as well as state and territory vaccination sites. The doses would be given on an equal population basis, the pm said.
“This deal comes on top of the Polish agreement that has already boosted our national vaccination rates to exceed those achieved in the United States and United Kingdom at the peak of their programmes,” Morrison added, thanking Singapore’s prime minister Lee Hsien Loong for his cooperation.
“I also extend my thanks to Minister Hunt, Minster Payne, Australia’s High Commissioner to Singapore Will Hodgman and his team, and our Health Secretary Professor Murphy for bringing this arrangement together.”
Foreign minister Marise Payne said that Australia would continue to work with international partners to address the global challenges of the pandemic.
“Just as Australia and Singapore are working together, Australia is cooperating with partners in the region to save lives, advance economic recovery, and build health systems to protect against future pandemics,” Payne said.
According to Australian Health data, Australians have received over 1.9 million doses of available COVID-19 vaccines in the last week.
“Across the country, 58.7% of Australians have had their first dose and 35% have had their second dose,” Morrison said.
This daily infographic provides the total number of vaccine doses administered in Australia 🇦🇺 as of 29 August 2021 📅
— Australian Government Department of Health (@healthgovau) August 30, 2021