Monday, 11 January 2021

COVID-19 State Of Play 2021: about the Australian Government national vaccination program......

On 7 January 2021 Australian Prime Minister and Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison fronted a press conference at which he stated of the proposed national vaccination program; “It's a federal vaccination policy”.

Currently this federal policy commences with only one vaccine agreement being implemented – the two-dose Astra Zeneca vaccine (doses given 28 days apart) which is considered to have an efficacy rate of at least 62 per cent in those fully vaccinated.

This vaccine choice by federal government appears to be predicated on potential product loss and lower storage costs, as the Astra Zeneca vaccine vials can be stored in fridges rather than requiring very low temperature medical freezers.

The Australian Government’s agreement with Astra Zeneca is that this pharmaceutical company will deliver 3.8 million doses in early 2021, with another 50 million doses to be manufactured under licence in Australia by CSL Behring.

Using the stated dosing regime the initial doses sent to Australia would only fully vaccinate est. 1.9 million people or would only partially vaccinate 3.8 million people.

It is to be hoped that before mid-February CSL Behring will have managed to manufacture and stockpile at least another 4.2 million doses if Morrison's stated population target is to be met.

At that 7 January press conference Morrison went on to say that he expected that the nation rollout will commence with vaccinations of high priority groups in mid to late February 2021.

He is hoping to start the vaccination with around 80,000 vaccinations a week and, to build up those numbers over the next 4 to 6 weeks.

Further, Morrison expressed a hope that that by the end of March 4 million people will have received the vaccine.

If vaccinations commenced at the earliest date Morrison has indicated then it would be on 14 February 2021 with 80,000 having received a first dose injection by 21 February.

To reach the target of 4 million people having received an injection by 31 March 2021, the rollout would have to proceed from 22 February onwards at a rate of est. 95,609 people a day.

Being generous and allowing that though he said March he may have meant mid-April, the amended rate of vaccination would be lowered to est. 66,440 people per day.

To complete full vaccination of 4 million people, the second-dose round would have to commence on or about 14 March 2021 which would raise the number of people receiving injections by the end of March (or alternatively by mid-April) to an impossibly large number.

This appears to be an incredibly optimistic timetable and the logistics daunting. Hospital clinics and GP practices would likely be overwhelmed.

I sincerely hope I am wrong and the states and territories manage to pull a few medical rabbits out of their public health hats, because I suspect on past behaviour Scott Morrison will decide to holiday or be otherwise unavailable for much of the initial 4-6 week vaccine rollout period.

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