Australia’s top medical officer says there will be no delays in the rolling out of coronavirus vaccines once safety approvals are given.
More than 12.3 million doses of vaccines have so far been administered across 30 countries, including 4.33 million in the United States and 4.5 million in China, according to an analysis by Bloomberg.
But the Therapeutic Goods Administration has not completed its checks which would allow the rollout in Australia.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese on Monday questioned whether the Morrison government had dropped the ball on vaccines, as other parts of the world benefited from them.
Health Minister Greg Hunt has previously said, in announcing advanced purchase approvals for three different vaccines, that at least one type would be available in January.
Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said details of Australia’s timetable were expected to be released later in the week.
“There will be no delays once that approval is done,” Professor Kelly told reporters in Canberra.
After the approval there needs to be stock available to be distributed and some of that needs to have further testing by the TGA after that approval.
“We are just being cautious in terms of the late March timeline at this stage, hoping that it may be shorter than that, but at this stage we are being upfront.
“There will be no delays other than those that are absolutely necessary for safety and to ensure the implementation of the vaccine strategy is working to its most efficient way to get vaccines to all Australians that want one by the end of the year.”
Mr Albanese said the government could not argue Australia was ahead of the queue when it came to vaccines.
“Australia is not at the front of the queue. We have never been at the front of the queue,” he said.
“And that’s why Labor argued very early on that we needed to get these deals signed, that we needed to get six deals signed, which is international best practice.”
He said Labor supported the independence of the regulator but if the government had confidence in the TGA’s processes, vaccines should be quickly made available once approved.