Australia aims to complete review of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine by January 2021

FILE PHOTO: Pfizer's logo is reflected in a drop on a syringe needle in this illustration taken November 9, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia's pharmaceutical regulator said on Thursday it is on course to review Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine by January 2021, with the country sticking to a March timetable to start vaccinations.

Britain on Wednesday approved the use of the Pfizer vaccine, jumping ahead of the rest of the world in the race to begin the most crucial mass inoculation programme in history.

But John Skerritt, the head of Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) said it would likely complete its review by "late January" and has told staff not to plan a holiday to get the work done.

"My staff have been told to put away their swimsuits and towels and to work as quickly as we can but also in significant depth," Skerritt told reporters in Canberra.

Pfizer's is one of the four COVID-19 vaccines Australia has agreed to buy, including from Novavax, AstraZeneca and CSL Ltd should trials prove successful.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said the January timetable does not accelerate plans to begin vaccinations.

"We are on track for first vaccinations beginning with our health workers and our aged care residents subject to approvals in March," Hunt told reporters in Canberra.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said getting a vaccine out by then would boost the country's economy by A$34 billion ($25 billion) compared with earlier assumptions of 2022.

Australia is in the fortunate position of being able to allow regulators time to complete checks without the pressure of mounting cases of COVID-19.

Its tally of more than 27,800 infections is far fewer than many other developed countries, and until Wednesday gone nearly three weeks without any local transmission of COVID-19.

The streak was broken when Australia's most populous state said a worker at a hotel, where overseas travellers are quarantined for two weeks, tested positive for COVID-19.

(Additional reporting by Renju Jose; Editing by Sam Holmes and Lincoln Feast.)

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 18
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3

Did you find this article insightful?


50% readers found this article insightful

Next In World

Man beats up girlfriend following horoscope reading that claimed they’re not compatible
In Tokyo's lockdown, some drink on even after authorities call time
Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny due to fly back to Russia despite arrest threat
Quake death toll at 56 as Indonesia struggles with string of disasters
Small coronavirus cluster emerges in Sydney suburb
Reeling again from COVID-19, Amazonas gets respirators, oxygen from Brazil Air Force and Venezuela
Ecuador hits new daily record of 3,942 cases of COVID-19
France says Iran is building nuclear weapons capacity, urgent to revive 2015 deal
Facebook to ban ads promoting weapon accessories, protective gear in U.S
Fires in central Chile consume over 3,200 hectares

Stories You'll Enjoy