Karnataka Declares Journalists as Frontline Workers, to be Vaccinated on Priority Basis


The Karnataka government on Tuesday decided to treat journalists as frontline COVID warriors and inoculate them on a priority basis. “We will treat journalists as frontline workers and vaccinate them on a priority basis,” Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa told reporters after a special cabinet meeting to control the growing COVID cases in the state.

He, however, appealed to journalists not to cover incidents in a manner that it created fear among people.

“There is a health emergency situation in the state as well as the country. It is the responsibility of the media

to point out flaws and shortcomings but showing one issue continuously will create fear among people,” Yediyurappa

pointed out.

The cabinet decided to import five lakh doses of Remdesivir injection and also one lakh oxygen concentrators.

The Chief Minister also warned those black-marketing Remdesivir drug by colluding with company officials, their agents and middlemen.

The cabinet also decided to appoint ministers to supervise the oxygen and Remdesivir supply, bed availability

and COVID Call centres and war rooms, the Chief Minister said.

According to him, the district in-charge ministers have been asked to camp in their respective district and have

been given full authority to bring COVID cases under control.

“In order to procure more oxygen and Remdesivir drug we are constantly in touch with the Central government,” the Chief Minister said, adding, more number of COVID care centres would be opened in the districts.

Suitable action would be taken to appoint doctors and nursing staff for COVID control, he added.

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Bunnings stores could be used as covid vaccination hubs to boost Aussie rollout


In what might be the most Aussie way to get vaccinated ever, many could soon be heading down to their local Bunnings for a sausage sizzle while they get their jab.

The hardware company has said it is open to the idea of helping the Federal government with the vaccine rollout, after national cabinet agreed to fast track vaccinations and introduce a “12-week sprint”.

Bunnings’ chief operating officer, Deb Poole, told The Guardian the company would be willing for its premises to serve as mass vaccination hubs if required.

“We’ve previously supported the government and the community by hosting COVID-19 testing in some of our store car parks and we’re always open to discussing further support directly with the government,” Ms Poole said.

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It is understood Bunnings has not approached the government with this offer, but the company is open to discuss how this plan might be put into action.

La Trobe University associate professor and epidemiologist, Hassan Vally, told the publication that setting up vaccination sites at Bunnings stores could encourage more people to get the jab.

“Most people haven’t seen a vaccination occur in person, so if you’re going into a Bunnings a few times and you keep passing the vaccinations, then the next time you’re on your way out with your potting mix, you’ll go up and ask,” Professor Vally said.

He noted that a large section of the community regularly goes to Bunnings or has one nearby, making it a very convenient option for a mass vaccination hub.

“If people go to Bunnings and can get their sausage sandwich after their vaccine on the way out, that’s a good thing,” Professor Vally added.

Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout has been faced with many hurdles, slowing the process down considerably.

Now, the government has come up with a plan to fast-track the process, meaning millions of Australias could be vaccinated sooner than originally thought.

National cabinet met on Monday to discuss resetting the national rollout, including the possibility of mass vaccination hubs to fast-track vaccine delivery.

One of the items state and territory leaders agreed to “in principle” was bringing forward the AstraZeneca vaccine for those aged 50 and over, or phase 2A.

The proposed changes to the rollout are expected to be discussed at today’s national cabinet meeting.

With the AstraZeneca vaccine now only being recommended for people over 50, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he wants it to be made available to those aged between 50 and 69 sooner rather than later.

RELATED: ‘Shameful’: Aussies left behind on vaccine

“We don’t want to see one vaccine that’s rolling off the line and going through the approval processes and the batch testing sitting in a fridge,” Mr Morrison said.

“If there’s someone over 50 who’s there and wants to take that vaccine we’ll be looking at how that can be achieved today.

“There are strong, strong arguments for the bring forward of over 50s with the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is a safe and effective vaccine for those aged over 50 and particularly important for those aged over 70 who are already in that priority group.”

Mr Morrison also proposed a “12-week sprint” at the end of the year that would see six million Australians aged under 50 vaccinated.

The push would be dependent on the Federal government receiving its expected delivery of 20 million Pfizer vaccine doses in October, as well as the Novavax vaccine, which is yet to be approved.

“There’s a lot of work to be done given that would be effectively, if we wished, a 12-week sprint,” Mr Morrison said.

“To be able to do that safely and effectively … there’d need to be plenty of planning to achieve that.”



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Scott Morrison flags ‘mass vaccination’ to get covid jabs back on track


Scott Morrison has flagged “mass vaccination options” for Australians aged 50 to 70 from June for the first time, raising hopes it could hold the key to getting the majority of Australians protected against COVID-19 by the end of the year.

The prospect of Australians lining up at sports stadiums and big clinics could become a reality by mid-year with the government racing to consider options.

The Prime Minister has previously dismissed calls for mass vaccination clinics arguing that it was unsuitable in the early stage of the rollout for vulnerable, elderly people in aged care.

However, after pressure from NSW to consider mass vaccination clinics in recent weeks he’s now flagging the option of vaccine “hubs” to ramp up the program from June for people aged 50 to 70. That could be extended to under 50s in the final quarter of the year.

“Equally there’s an option to work – and I’ve discussed this with at least one premier – about how mass vaccination could be an option earlier, say in June or July, for those over-50 groups that are in the balance of the population,” Mr Morrison said.

RELATED: PM to put national cabinet on war footing

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Mr Morrison said the mass vaccination option – which would require a massive recalibration of the program – could hold the key to ramping up the rollout.

“We want to ensure we can get systems in place, to understand the risks associated with that, what resourcing is required and to be able to direct those programs as a national cabinet (meeting),” he said.

“That’s what the meetings are for.”

Stung by accusations of a “bungled” rollout, the PM abandoned a pledge to deliver a timetable to vaccinate all adults by the end of the year at the weekend.

But Mr Morrison hinted that may still be possible if mass vaccination clinics could be rolled out for those aged under 50 later in the year when extra Pfizer imports become available in the final three months of the year.

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“It’s important that we get people aged over 50, particularly those aged over 70, which is the target group right now, vaccinated, because they are the most vulnerable population, particularly as we go into winter,” he said.

“As we move into the second half of this year, when we were planning to move into the balance of the population, those between 50 and 70 and those of younger ages as well.”

The PM said the Pfizer vaccine deliveries will increase in the weeks and months ahead but the big imports of Pfizer and Novavax were expected in the final quarter of the year.

“So that will mean we’ll need to change our rollout to go to mass vaccination options, and that will have to be done in partnership with the states and territories,” he said.

“Now, if we can do all that then there is the possibility that can be achieved by the end of 2021. But at this stage, there are too many uncertainties.”

The PM also warned Australians that if international borders are reopened and the vulnerable vaccinated we may need to move to a “new normal” of tolerating some COVID-19 cases.

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“And if we want to treat COVID like the flu, then we have to have the same tolerance for COVID as we have for the flu,” he said.

“And people get the flu and there would be cases of COVID if the international borders were lifted, there would be cases and we’d have to be confident and comfortable that that would be in Australia’s interest to have potentially large numbers of cases of COVID, knowing that it would not lead to the horrific outcomes that we saw, in particular in Victoria, when the second wave ripped through particularly Melbourne.

“And so they are real legitimate questions that need to be worked through with states and territories. There’s a lot of focus on the daily number of cases, both by state governments, their chief health officers and their premiers, but also by the media.

“And so we would need to be, I think, of one mind that if we were to go to those steps later in the year or soon after, then they would have to be an appreciation that would come with case numbers for COVID in Australia. And we would have to be understanding of what that meant.”



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Australia daily vaccine numbers fall after blood clot link


Australia’s record number of daily vaccinations has fallen after rare blood clots were linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Health advice updated last week no longer recommends that COVID-19 jab for people aged under 50.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is still deemed safe and effective for people aged over 50, but the number of vaccines being administered has dropped in the wake of the revelations.

Authorities on Friday celebrated Australia hitting one million doses and a record number of 81,297 daily doses.

But only 60,991 vaccines were administered on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that figure was up from the previous day when 56,379 doses were administered.

“The challenge now is the medical advice that has been received that deals with the rather rare instance where you can have the clotting occur for those who are under 50,” Mr Morrison said.

“Right now, our focus is on vaccinating people who the AstraZeneca vaccine does not present a challenge (to).”

RELATED:Australia rules out one-jab vaccine

Health ministers will meet on Thursday night, while national cabinet will begin meeting twice a week from Monday to discuss the nation’s troubled vaccine rollout.

Mr Morrison said the AstraZeneca vaccine could be used to ramp up vaccinations in people aged over 50 from June or July.

This is ahead of the Novavax jab receiving approval for use and an additional 20 million Pfizer doses arriving between October and December.

Under the initial plan, pharmacies were due to begin administering doses from mid-year.

But Mr Morrison said a substantial number of vaccines would only be available in the fourth quarter of the year, prompting the government to rethink the delivery.

“We would like to see this done before the end of the year,” he said.

“But that will only be possible if we can ensure we have the mass vaccination program in place.

“We will now need to weigh up the various options that we have for mass vaccination centres for those aged over 50, and whether that is a viable option.

“Or we can continue to do that at a sufficient rate using the previous method, which was to be done through GPs and pharmacies.”



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Australia’s vaccination program could take a ‘couple of years’


One of Australia’s leading epidemiologists has warned Australia risks dragging its vaccination program out for many years if the number of doses isn’t substantially lifted, and soon.

Mary-Louise McLaws, an adviser to the World Health Organisation, and Professor at UNSW, said at the current rate it will take Australia a “couple of years” to vaccinate 85 per cent of its population.

The longer it takes for Australia to reach this goal, and achieve relative herd immunity, the longer Australia will remain vulnerable to further outbreaks — and the international borders will remain shut.

“At about this rate of injecting it would take us a couple of years to vaccinate 85 per cent of the population who want to be vaccinated,” she told the ABC on Monday.

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“We’re going to have to do a lot of rethinking. And mass vaccination. Even with that — I’ve estimated that each state will need at least two mass vaccination sites, and the largest states will need three or four sites.

“They should start thinking about it now.”

Professor McLaws said the government would need to “ramp it up to about 100,000 to 120,000 doses per day” to reach their targets by 2022.

She said it might sound simple to raise the number of doses given per day, but it includes a lot of “logistics” and planning.

The most recent daily tally of vaccines given in a 24-hour period is 27,209.

Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly disputed Prof McLaws’ claims.

“I think if you really looked closely at the data from the rollout so far, this is not a straight line, it is an exponential curve.

“We are right now on the large increase of the daily doses.”

Prof McLaws has previously criticised the government’s plan to rollout the vaccine primarily using GP clinics instead of mass vaccination hubs. She told the AFR last on Friday that a move to vaccination hubs would assist with ramping up the number of doses given.

“The current plan presumes we’re all middle-class and have the ability to access a local GP during work hours or early evenings,” Prof McLaws said.

“Many people who are unemployed, disadvantaged, working multiple part-time jobs, disaffected or can’t get away from work might not be able or willing to visit a GP clinic in their neighbourhood.”

Prof McLaws said mass vaccination hubs were reliant on secure supply of vaccines, but said GP clinics wouldn’t be able to service the country’s entire rollout.

She said GP clinics would begin needing to vaccinate up to 50 people a day who would then need to sit in the clinics for observation.

She said “even in a pandemic” GPs would still need to see regular patients for other health and wellbeing concerns.



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Gladys Berejiklian reveals states vaccine


A major hub, capable of vaccinating 30,000 residents a week, will be set up in Sydney’s west as the state looks to jab more than 60,000 people every week.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian made the announcement on Wednesday and said the hub would be established in Homebush.

She confirmed even after the state reached the designated 300,000 vaccinations that the federal government asked it to take care of, health officials would continue using the hub.

“We will be able to do around 60,000 vaccinations a week. Half will be done at Homebush and the other half across the other 100 sites across the state,” she told reporters.

“That number could go up depending on demand.

“This is to support the GP network and to support the commonwealth because given where we are with the vaccine rollout, NSW doesn’t want to see further delays.”

Ms Berejiklian also took a subtle swipe at the Morrison government, saying the state’s ability to vaccinate people depended on a steady supply of vaccine doses.

“That is their (federal government) responsibility,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“They’re responsible for making sure we have those doses to be able to give out.”

The hub is in addition to the 100 vaccination sites that are being set up across the state, 80 of which are already up and running.

Earlier, the Morrison government put the European Commission on notice over the supply of millions of internationally manufactured vaccine doses.

A war of words erupted overnight after the commission – the European Union’s executive branch – rejected claims it blocked 3.1 million AstraZeneca doses from being sent to Australia.

The commissions’s chief spokesman, Eric Mamer, said he could not confirm any new decision to block vaccine exports.

Mr Mamer argued “only one request” of 250,000 doses from Italy had been refused.

But Prime Minister Scott Morrison said 3.1 million doses had not come to Australia in January and February as per its contract with AstraZeneca.

“That is just a simple fact,” Mr Morrison told reporters.



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Australia’s bungled COVID-19 vaccine rollout dealt fresh blow as pharmacists delay distribution start time


Things continue to go from bad to worse for Australia’s bungled COVID-19 vaccine rollout, with a major distribution point for potentially millions of recipients not coming online as scheduled.

The Morrison Government is under increasing pressure over its handling of the program, plagued by confusion, miscommunication, delays and significant supply shortfalls.

A commitment to have vaccinated four million people by the end of March fell well short by some 3.4 million doses, and while the Prime Minister’s office blames the export blockage from Europe, its own revised timeline is still behind by more than one million shots.

The government now can’t say when the first phase of the rollout – prioritising health workers, hotel quarantine staff and aged care residents – will be complete.

It also won’t reaffirm a promise that all Australians who want a vaccine will have one by October.

Now, in a fresh blow, it’s been announced the activation of pharmacies as vaccination spots will be delayed by at least a month.

RELATED: Australia’s vaccination gap revealed as frustrations over slow rollout boil over

Pharmacists were due to join the rollout from Phase 2a, which sees Australians aged over 50 become eligible, this month.

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia now says it’s unlikely to be before June – a delay that’s highly likely to have significant ripple effects for the rollout.

Pharmacy Guild president Trent Twomey told The Australian that 97 per cent of Australians live within 2.5km of a pharmacy, making it a convenient place to go for a jab.

Confusion and mixed messages

Critics of the government’s plan say it has put all of its eggs in one basket by so far relying solely on GP clinics to administer doses to the general public.

The Grattan Institute’s Dr Stephen Duckett said mass vaccination sites should be a major part of the rollout, along with pharmacies and GPs.

“Involvement of GPs was the right call — it’s good for doctors to provide a comprehensive range of services to their patients – but reliance on GPs was the mistake,” Dr Duckett wrote in The Conversation.

“GP clinics rarely have the space for significant numbers of people waiting to be vaccinated and to be observed after being vaccinated.

“Mass vaccination requires large centres such as sports venues and town halls.”

But yesterday, acting chief medical officer Professor Michael Kidd rubbished the idea of mass vaccination centres here in Australia, saying they weren’t needed “because we are rolling out the vaccine very effectively through the systems we already have”.

That’s at odds with a claim made by Prime Minister’s office that the government was already planning for mass vaccination sites from Phase 2a onwards.

RELATED: PM needs to accept Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout is an ‘unmitigated disaster’: experts


The government is confident that the local production of the AstraZeneca vaccine by CSL in Melbourne will significantly boost supply and accelerate the rollout.

But yesterday, Professor Kidd was unable to say when its almost two million stockpiled doses will be approved by regulators and deployed.

“We are going through our same rigorous processes with the Therapeutic Goods Administration with ensuring the safety and the quality of every batch of vaccine which has been produced by the CSL facilities,” Professor Kidd said.

On Sunday, when pressed about various past rollout timeline expectations, Health Minister Greg Hunt was noncommittal.

Meanwhile, University of New South Wales strategic health policy consultant Adjunct Professor Bill Bowtell said Australia’s rate of cumulative doses per hundred was 2.34.

“We are somewhere about 90th in the world – sandwiched between Bolivia and Albania – now, however you want to spin it we are not doing very well,” he told 3AW on Tuesday morning.



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Australia’s vaccination gap revealed as concerns over slow rollout increase


There is a significant gap in Australia’s vaccination numbers that must be filled if all adults are to receive their first dose of the vaccine by October this year, an expert says.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has insisted the program is still on track to meet the October target but modelling shows this won’t be possible unless there’s a significant ramp-up in numbers.

Economist and modeller Professor Quentin Grafton of Australian National University told news.com.au that authorities would have to deliver 90,000 vaccinations a day to have any chance of achieving this.

Currently authorities are delivering 70,000 at best.

Prof Grafton said that if Australia administered an average of 56,000 jabs a day, some Australians wouldn’t be getting their first jab until next year, and it may take as long as September next year for them to get their second jab.

“We are going slowly, there’s no question about that,” he said.

“So we’re going to have to speed up and do a lot better if we want to achieve that target.”

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Now that Australia has begun producing its own locally manufactured vials of the AstraZeneca vaccine, Prof Grafton says supply is not an issue.

“The issue is getting people in and getting them vaccinated,” he said.

Frustrations boiled over this week about the slow pace of the rollout, with federal and state authorities blaming each other while GPs complained of being unable to get more doses.

Port Stephens GP Super Clinic director Anna Davidson said they had spent about $25,000 on a new fridge and other improvements so they could vaccinate up to 500 patients a day.

Instead the clinic has been advised it will get 50 vaccines a week for the next 12 weeks, taking them up to July 1.

“We were pretty gobsmacked,” Dr Davidson told ABC’s Patricia Karvelas.

She said the clinic has 12,000 patients and at that rate it would take eight years to vaccinate the clinic’s own patients, let alone any other members of the community.

“Patients are angry,” she said, adding they had a full-time person dealing with phone calls about vaccine inquiries.

Mr Morrison has blamed the slow start on the decision of European authorities to block shipments of the AstraZeneca vaccine, leaving Australia 3.1 million doses short.

However, now the Australia’s own production is ramping up, there will be more vaccines to distribute and more scrutiny on the pace of the rollout.

AUSTRALIA CHOSE A SLOWER SYSTEM

Unlike other countries like the United Kingdom, United States and Israel, which have been battling large outbreaks and have introduced mass vaccination centres to speed up their vaccination rate, Australia is taking a different approach.

It plans to vaccinate people mostly through thousands of GP clinics but this appears to have added to the complexity of distribution.

Prof Grafton said the logistics of coordinating the delivery of the vaccine to so many clinics was certainly a slower process but it may have benefits.

“The thing about going through GPs is that maybe more people get vaccinated because people are comfortable going to GPs and they are trusted by people,” he said.

He said people may feel less comfortable about going to mass vaccination centres.

“But clearly if we want to vaccinate people quickly, we need to have these vaccination stations, not just GPs,” Prof Grafton said.

The rate of vaccination will have implications for when Australia will be able to open up its borders, and could also be a problem if there was a big outbreak.

“That’s the issue with the speed of the rollout, if there is an outbreak and fatalities then the slowness of the vaccination program will have dire consequences,” he said.

He said achieving 90,000 jabs a day instead of 56,000, would see Australians get their first jab several months earlier.

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In a press conference on March 24, Health Minister Greg Hunt defended the GP model and noted that not every country had a primary health network that was set up to distribute vaccinations.

“Australia, because of its diffuse and diverse and regional population does have that network where our GPs are effectively vaccination clinics in every town in every state,” he said.

“The focus on the needs of the elderly … the focus on people with disability and in particular, with chronic disease or who are immunocompromised means seeing their doctors is so fundamental.”

He said Commonwealth and state vaccination clinics would also be used.

ANGER AS STATES BLAMED

More than five weeks since the vaccination program got underway, questions were raised about why some frontline workers had not yet got their first jab, after an unvaccinated nurse in Queensland got COVID, eventually sparking a lockdown.

The blame game kicked off on Wednesday when federal minister David Littleproud pointed the finger at the states and territories in a TV interview.

He said state authorities had “left these (jabs) on the rack when they could’ve put them into people’s arms” and they needed have confidence in the supply chain and “pull their finger out”.

It had earlier emerged that Queensland was holding back some of its doses as a “contingency” even though the Federal Government was already doing this.

However, Mr Littleproud’s comments sparked an angry response from Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles, who accused the Morrison Government of launching an attack on the states and territories every time it wanted to deflect from its own failings.

Mr Miles pointed out on Thursday that Queensland only had three days’ supply of the Pfizer vaccine and 12 days’ supply of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the state needed guaranteed supply and guaranteed times of delivery. She pointed to the example of Gold Coast University Hospital, where doses of the vaccine had arrived just in time for vaccinations.

RELATED: Coronavirus vaccine queue calculator

The Federal Government were also in the firing line from NSW, after figures on the vaccine rollout were printed in The Daily Telegraph on Wednesday.

The figures revealed NSW had only administered about 50 per cent of the 190,610 doses it has received, while Queensland had administered about 55 per cent.

The report was based on data about the total number of vaccines the states had on March 29, compared to how many had been delivered the day before.

Mr Hazzard said he was angry the “misleading” figures, which look to have come from the government, had been released.

“Let me make it very clear, I am as angry as I have ever been in this 15 months of war against this virus. All governments in Australia should be working together,” he said.

He said NSW was under the impression it would only get 13,000 doses from the Federal Government last week, but then got 45,000 without any notice.

“A few days later there is a press report saying we haven’t distributed them all,” he said.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said it was “extremely unfair” to be given 24 or 48 hours notice about how many doses they would get.

“As you can appreciate, disseminating that within 24 hours or 48 hours is a difficult task,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“When we get enough notice we are able to get out 90 per cent of what we have or more within a week.

“I don’t want there to be a perception that there is all these doses sitting there and the states aren’t rolling them out. That is the wrong perception and it is the wrong fact.”

UNCLEAR HOW MANY VACCINES ARE AVAILABLE

Information about the vaccination rollout is also patchy and figures are not always updated daily by the Federal Government, or some states and territory governments.

According to media announcements made over the past couple of months, Australia has access to at least 1.8 million vaccine doses.

Around 301,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine arrived in Australia across two shipments, and 700,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine made it into the country before Europe blocked further shipments. Australia has also produced about 830,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine locally.

However, not all of these are being released for distribution as about half the supply would have been held as “contingency” to ensure enough doses were available for people to get their second doses.

Even so, it looks as if less than half of the 1.8 million doses — about 670,000 so far — have been administered.

It was reported by The Australian on Wednesday, that only a third of residential aged and disability care facilities had received doses of the vaccine, an area the Commonwealth is responsible for.

Authorities expect the total number of vaccinations in Australia will reach one million by the end of the week, but this falls far short of the four million vaccinations authorities had predicted would be in Australians’ arms by the end of March.

The number of locally produced AstraZeneca jabs was expected to rise to around one million doses by March, although it’s unclear whether this has been achieved. It’s also unclear how many doses already produced have been released for distribution.

On March 24, Health Minister Greg Hunt said about 830,000 AstraZeneca doses had been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, with a total of about 3.3 million doses expected to be produced within the next three and a half weeks.

Mr Hunt said about 500,000 doses a week would eventually go out and this should double within 12 weeks, once enough had been stockpiled for the contingency supply.

Acting Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd told the ABC’s Fran Kelly on Thursday more than 72,000 doses were delivered on Wednesday, and authorities expected to be vaccinating 400,000 people a week within the next few weeks.

However, at this pace, it would take until almost the end of May — almost two months — to bring total vaccinations to four million.

The Federal Government has previously said it expected to have delivered six million vaccinations by mid-May.

charis.chang@news.com.au | @charischang2





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Young and healthy could wait for Australia’s COVID vaccine until November


A researcher has developed a COVID calculator that provides people with an estimated date for when they will get their vaccination.

The Omni Calculator’s Vaccine Queue Calculator for Australia, gives people an approximate date for their jab based on the number of people getting vaccinated every week, as well as their age and profession.

Interestingly, it highlights questions about whether the Federal Government’s schedule to have all adults vaccinated by October is achievable.

The Omni calculator, developed by Dr Steven Wooding, a web content developer based in the UK with a background in physics, programming and research, has used a figure of 500,000 vaccinations a week to come up with the estimates, although this is not based on official figures. The figure can be changed by users if they wish.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in January he hoped Australia’s program would deliver the jab to about 80,000 people a week and that four million people were expected to be vaccinated by the end of March.

The first Aussies to receive the COVID-19 jab will be frontline healthcare workers, quarantine and border workers, aged care and disability care staff and aged care and disability care residents.

They are included in Phase 1a of the rollout, covering about 678,000 people. It was predicted up to 60,000 people would be vaccinated this week.

The next group – Phase 1b – is expected to include about 6.1 million people and include people aged 70 and over, other healthcare workers, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 55 and over, people with a disability or underlying medical condition and critical and high-risk workers, such as emergency services, defence personnel and meat processing staff.

Vaccination numbers are expected to ramp up but authorities have not yet revealed what Australia’s peak capacity will be.

The 500,000 figure the Omni calculator is using is substantially higher than the number of people who are currently being vaccinated in Australia each week.

However, even at this 500,000 a week pace, an adult who is not among the priority groups (and part of the vaccination program’s phase 2b rollout) would not get their first jab until November.

It is estimated 6.6 million Australians are in this group.

The calculator estimates they would receive this between November 25 and April 9, 2022.

This is far later than the Federal Government’s stated plan to have all adults vaccinated by the end of October this year.

News.com.au’s Our Best Shot campaign answers your questions about the COVID-19 vaccine roll out.

We’ll debunk myths about vaccines, answer your concerns about the jab and tell you when you can get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Under the government’s plan, vaccinations for those in group 2b were expected to begin in late June and early July.

Other experts have suggested Australia would need to be vaccinating a staggering 1.4 million people a week in order to reach its target of having all adults vaccinated by October.

Preliminary research uploaded as a preprint manuscript this month, which is still awaiting peer review, noted the “considerable logistical challenges” in meeting Australia’s target.

Dr Mark Hanly, an applied social statistician at the University of NSW’s Centre for Big Data Research in Health, contributed to the research and noted the ambitiousness of the target in an article for The Conversation this month.

“200,000 vaccinations a day (1.4 million a week) is a truly furious pace,” Dr Hanly wrote.

“It’s possible, but will require dedicated large-scale vaccination sites capable of delivering thousands of doses a week in addition to the enthusiastic participation of general practices and community pharmacies countrywide.”

The Conversation article also analysed the vaccination programs of other countries to see whether it was feasible for Australia to vaccinate 1.4 million people a week.

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It standardised the countries according to population size and found if Australia wanted to vaccinate 1.4 million people a week, this translated to about 7700 doses per million population per day.

“This rate exceeds the best efforts of the majority of countries to date, including the United Kingdom and the United States, where the rate of vaccine administration has peaked at around 5800 and 4000 daily doses per million population respectively,” the article noted.

However, it said that Israel had achieved between 7000 and 20,000 daily doses throughout January.

“Several factors may have contributed to this success, including a young, largely urbanised population and a strong public health infrastructure,” the article said.

“Perhaps most important has been robust logistical planning, including coordination of delivery, ultra-cold-chain storage and staffing.”

In order for Australia to achieve its goal, Dr Hanly said vaccinations could not only be delivered through GPs and pharmacists.

It would require mass vaccination sites staffed by trained nurses that could vaccinate between 80-100 people per hour.

RELATED: Should you wait for a better vaccine?

“A similar approach in the UK has seen conference centres, sports stadiums, churches and mosques all co-opted as mass vaccination hubs, to great effect,” the article noted.

“A complementary approach would be to set up drive-through vaccine clinics similar to the model of drive-through testing sites.”

Australia began its coronavirus vaccine program ahead of schedule on Sunday, February 21, with the Prime Minister among the first in the country to get the Pfizer vaccine.

The first phase of the vaccination rollout will see frontline healthcare workers and those in border protection, quarantine workers, and aged care and disability care residents and staff, get the jab.

They will be followed by those aged over 70, immuno-compromised, Indigenous Australians over 55 and emergency service workers.

Phase 2a will see those over 50, critical workers and Indigenous Australians younger than 50 get vaccinated, before the balance of the adult population gets the jab as part of phase 2b.

Subject the clinical trials, the third phase would involve children.

charis.chang@news.com.au | @charischang2





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