Health Minister Greg Hunt has reassured Australians Italy’s decision to block a shipment of 250,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine will not affect the pace of the national rollout.
Italy’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says the decision was made because Australia is not vulnerable, and AstraZeneca is not delivering enough supplies to Europe.
“We are very clear that this does not affect the pace of the rollout,” Mr Hunt said.
“That shipment had not been factored into our distribution to the states and territories and in fact we received the first shipment of AstraZeneca this week of 300,000 doses.
“AstraZeneca has a deep, broad global supply chain and we have indeed been reassured they will continue to draw on that deep, broad global supply chain”.
Mr Hunt said the incident was a reminder it is a “very competitive world” which is “precisely” why the government ensured local biotech company CSL had the capability to produce 15 million AstraZeneca doses.
“I’ve had reaffirmation overnight that remains on track in the order of 1 million per week which will be made available,” he said.
“Obviously contingency is then taken from that for second does, but that will allow a dramatic scaling up and the commencement of the phase 1B program”.