Australia is 'on track' to deliver a coronavirus vaccine by March next year, Greg Hunt says

Pfizer's promising vaccine could be delivered to Australia in "sophisticated eskies" to keep the vaccine below the required storage temperature of minus 70 degrees.

Minister for Health Greg Hunt Source: AAP

Health Minister Greg Hunt Source: AAP

Australians could start receiving coronavirus vaccinations from March next year with sophisticated eskies set to transport the leading candidate.

Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters on Wednesday the federal government's vaccination program timeline is on track.

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is reporting a 90 per cent effectiveness rate in late-stage clinical trials but needs more data to confirm it's safe.

A research coordinator administers an injection to Katelyn Evans as part of clinical trial of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine at Cincinnati Childrens Hospital.
Source: Cincinnati Childrens Hospital Medical Center

The Pfizer vaccine uses genetic information to tell the body how to develop an immune response to coronavirus. That means it needs to be stored at minus 70 degrees.

Therapeutic Goods Administration head John Skerritt said cold chain logistics would be used to transport the Pfizer vaccine.

"They're very sophisticated eskies which require dry ice. They actually last for 14 days and they can be refilled twice," he said.

Adjunct Professor Skerritt said the two refills allowed a month and a half of storage without the need to connect to power.

"Even in a country the size of Australia you can get anywhere much quicker than that," he said.

The TGA has given the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca candidates pre-approval provided they meet stringent final checks.

Mr Hunt said the provisional determinations would bring the medicines to Australia faster with a premium on safety.

Australia has a deal for 10 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and will manufacture 30 million of the Oxford candidate, while a further 3.8 million will be imported.

There are agreements with two others in place.

Mr Hunt said Australia could be on track for a fourth consecutive day without community transmission.

"We nevertheless have to be aware that we will not be out of this until we have a nation which has had a full vaccination program," he said.

Australia is among a handful of countries that are performing well on managing the virus.

Deadly fresh waves are sweeping the United States and Europe, with the disease killing more than 1.2 million people and infecting 50 million.

Victoria's streak without new infections extended to 12 days as NSW notched a fourth day without community spread.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your jurisdiction's restrictions on gathering limits.

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

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Please check the relevant guidelines for your state or territory: NSW,VictoriaQueenslandWestern AustraliaSouth AustraliaNorthern TerritoryACTTasmania

Published 11 November 2020 at 2:34pm, updated 11 November 2020 at 2:56pm
Source: AAP - SBS