Covid-19: Australian health experts propose delaying AstraZeneca vaccine rollout

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on January 14, 2021 Published on January 14, 2021

Australian scientists have raised concerns over Covid-19 vaccines developed by Oxford/AstraZeneca. They stated that the vaccines are not enough to generate herd immunity against the virus, as per media reports.

Several immunologists, including the member of the opposition Labor Party, said on Wednesday that Canberra should seek doses of vaccines developed by BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna vaccines as they showed higher levels of efficacy against Covid-19.

While some immunologists appealed to the government to delay the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine by next month. However, Canberra has rejected the proposal, Financial Times reported.

Commenting on the vaccine, Andrew Miller, president of the Australian Medical Association in Western Australia said, as cited in the FT report, “Until we get more data that shows that AstraZeneca is as good as the others, the scientific and medical risk that you take is that you won’t get herd immunity.”

Also read: WHO awaits Serum Institute data to recommend Covid-19 vaccine for international use

“The political risk is that you will get a good vaccine for the rich and a not so good vaccine for the poor” Dr Miller said.

The team believes that Australia has managed well in controlling the spread of the pandemic. Hence, it can wait for a month and source the best vaccine in the meantime.

The government, however, maintained that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine can provide effective protection against SARS-CoV-2. Therefore, there will be no policy U-turn.

Paul Kelly, Australia’s chief medical officer said, “The AstraZeneca vaccine is effective, it is safe, and it’s a high-quality vaccine. It will be available as soon as the TGA gives its tick, which we expect will be in February.”

This comes on the backdrop of Australia suffering a major blow during its homegrown vaccine trials last month. Some of the participants, who took part in the trials run by the University of Queensland and CSL, returned false positives for HIV.

So, as a contingency plan, the country secured a deal of A$3.3bn (US$2.6bn) with AstraZeneca, Australia’s largest order.

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Published on January 14, 2021
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