Otago Daily Times

Vaccines bound for Australia


CANBERRA: Australia’s first shipment of coronaviru­s vaccines has been formally approved and will arrive within weeks.

The European Union has approved the export of vaccines to 23 countries, including Australia.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was yesterday tightlippe­d on when the jabs would reach Australian shores, saying he would have more to say ‘‘in the not too distant future’’.

He praised the health and foreign affairs ministers for their work in navigating the European export restrictio­ns.

Morrison said he was very aware of the ‘‘extreme pressures’’ on European vaccine supplies.

‘‘Australia has done very well to maintain our supply lines here as has been confirmed by the

European Union,’’ he said.

Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said confirmati­on the EU would not block Pfizer exports to Australia meant the vaccine rollout was on track.

‘‘We are definitely on track for the first vaccines in Australia of the . . . Pfizer vaccine before the end of February.’’

The formal approval comes after the EU ambassador to Canberra promised export restrictio­ns would not affect Australia’s first order of the Pfizer vaccine.

Trade Minister Dan Tehan was confident the Pfizer jabs would start being administer­ed within weeks.

‘‘I met with the European Union ambassador last week and he assured me that the vaccines would be arriving as they said they would be,’’ he said.

Australia is relying on 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which are being produced within Europe, and more than 50 million of the AstraZenec­a drug.

There were fears the Pfizer order could be jeopardise­d after the EU placed export controls on vaccines produced in its territory; there is still no confirmed date for when the shipment will leave Europe or arrive in Australia. — AAP

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