Lucky Australians could SKIP the queue for prized coronavirus vaccine despite Scott Morrison stumping up $3.2billion for the drug as it is headed for fast-tracked approval Down Under – so who will be first in line?
- The Federal Government has a deal for 10 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine
- But pharmaceutical companies can make vaccines available for private sale
- People who are lower priority for immunisation could buy the vaccine privately
Australians could jump the queue for a coronavirus vaccine by buying it privately, with others forced to wait in line for a national roll-out.
The Federal Government has a deal for 10 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine at a cost of $3.2billion, and three other agreements with candidates also in development.
The jab has since been put forward for an early release in Australia, with health chiefs already putting it on a path to approval – despite human trials still being underway.
Millions of vulnerable people, the elderly and those in aged care are keen to get their hands on the vaccine, which could help the world open up after months in lockdown.
But pharmaceutical companies will be able to make approved vaccines available for private sale to individuals, who will not have to wait in the national line.
Those who travel regularly and young and healthy people, who are likely to be classed as lower priority for immunisation, could buy the vaccine privately and get faster access, industry sources told The Australian.
The Federal Government has a deal for 10 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and three other agreements with candidates also in development (pictured, the vaccine trialled in Cincinnati)
Pfizer, which developed the vaccine with German drugmaker BioNTech, are the first to release successful data from an interim analysis of a large-scale clinical trial
‘While this is the case with most pharmaceuticals, there are arguments for everyone being subject to the same rights of access, a little like wartime rationing,’ director of Oxford University’s Health Economics Research Centre, Philip Clarke said.
A spokesman for the Health Department said decisions to make any vaccine available privately are for the company.
‘All vaccines need to be registered by the Therapeutic Goods Administration before they can be supplied in Australia.
‘The Australian government is committed to providing COVID-19 vaccines at no cost to patients. The government does not intend to on-sell to private providers within Australia’.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said the roll out is set to start in March, with the elderly and health workers to be given priority.
‘The first vaccines are likely to be available in about March… that would start with the health workers and the elderly if it’s approved for them,’ he told Sydney radio 2GB.
Mr Hunt said the vaccine could be rolled out nationwide before the end of 2021 but said it would not be compulsory.
‘It’s going to be voluntary but we’ll encourage as many people as possible,’ he said.
‘We’re confident that we’ll have a very high take-up among the Australian population.’
The Morrison government will buy 10 million doses of Pfizer’s mRNA-based vaccine.
Pharmaceutical companies will be able to make approved vaccines available for private sale to individuals
The jab has since been put forward for an early release in Australia, with health chiefs already putting it on a path to approval – despite human trials still being underway
Pfizer is planning to deliver 1.3 billion doses globally by the end of next year.
Pfizer and German partner BioNTech said that 94 people in a trial of more than 43,000 have so far tested positive for Covid-19, and that over 90 per cent of those did not receive the real vaccine.
This suggests the vaccine is 90 per cent effective and that no more than eight out of those 94 people actually received the real jab.
Most of the people who tested positive were in the placebo group, where people are given a fake vaccine so that what happens to them can be compared with those who get the real thing.
The companies did not reveal the exact split of how many people had had the vaccine and how many had not.