AstraZeneca vaccine to undergo batch testing as government sets up myth-busting unit

Health Minister Greg Hunt Source: AAP

The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is expected to be rolled out this month after the first doses arrived in Australia on Sunday.

Australia's medical regulator will be batch testing the first doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine this week with the aim of rolling it out from 8 March.

The first 300,000 doses landed in Sydney on Sunday, which Prime Minister Scott Morrison hailed as a new milestone for Australia's vaccine rollout.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration will now batch test the first shipment to ensure it meets Australia's strict quality standards.

Bio-tech giant CSL will manufacture 50 million doses of this vaccine which most Australians will receive.

Australia started its vaccine program last week with the first injections of the Pfizer vaccine.

Almost 30,000 Australians had been vaccinated since last Monday, including 8110 aged care and disability residents throughout 117 care facilities.

Meanwhile, the government has kicked off a second $31 million public information campaign on the COVID-19 vaccination program.

The government's initial advertising campaign launched in January focused on informing the Australian community about the TGA's world-leading independent approval process.

"The advertising is important, so people understand how the vaccination program is operating, how they can find out when it will be their turn and answer any questions they have about the vaccines," Health Minister Greg Hunt said.

Myth-busting unit

He said a myth-busting unit has also been quietly set up within Home Affairs in cooperation with the Health Department to stamp out information that is "plainly ridiculous", like 5G theories.

“Some of these anti-vaxxers are peddling, frankly, false and clearly irresponsible views. Whether it is about 5G and Bill Gates and mind control – ludicrous, ludicrous things,” Mr Hunt said.

"We don't want to give too much air to some of the silliest ideas but we do want to provide public reassurance to combat in the marketplace on those ideas which would in any way falsely have some impact on public confidence," he said.

Meanwhile, the Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly has put in place a so-called hotspot definition for the Auckland region, which will be reviewed every 72 hours.

People from the rest of New Zealand can continue to fly to Australia without the need for a 14 day quarantine.

There were no new virus cases reported across Australia on Sunday.

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