Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt has promised that millions of doses of another mRNA COVID-19 vaccine by Moderna will be available in coming months, as the nation continues seeing public preference for mRNA vaccines shaped by initial caution over reports of blood clot deaths among AstraZeneca vaccine recipients.
In Australia, mRNA vaccines are in limited supply, while AstraZeneca vaccines are readily available and now being recommended for Australians 18 years and older. Those with health concerns are encouraged to consult with their doctor about potential risks.
Hunt expects the first million doses of Moderna’s mRNA vaccine to arrive in Australia next month, subject to final approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration due in the next two weeks.
Once approved, supplies are expected to ramp up to three million per month through October to December.
This comes on top of the effective doubling of the mRNA Pfizer vaccines to two million per week, as well as the home manufactured AstraZeneca type.
This increased supply comes as vaccination rates have doubled from 700,000 per week a month-and-a-half ago to almost 1.3 million over the past seven days.
“What that does show is we can achieve a two million-a-week outcome in Australia,” Hunt told the ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday.
The TGA is also assessing a new monoclonal antibody therapy that has been approved by the U.S. FDA, Sotrovimab, which is expected to be available for use later this year.
“This medicine is not for everybody,” Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly told reporters in Canberra of the treatment produced by British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline.
“It will be mostly aimed at people that are not vaccinated. It will be mostly for people who are at highest risk of severe disease, and it needs to be given early in the treatment course.”
Sotrovimab has been priced at US$2,100 in America.
The federal government is also providing $17.7 million (US$13.02 million) to rapidly establish 10 pop-up mental health support sites in and around Greater Sydney and to extend the operation of at least 12 clinics in Victoria until June.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced a further 262 virus infections on Sunday as well as a further death, that of an unvaccinated woman in her 80s.
It takes the death toll in the current outbreak to 28.
Meanwhile, the southeast Queensland lockdown will end at 4 p.m. on Sunday as planned, although some restrictions will remain.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said while there were nine new cases reported, seven were linked to the Indooroopilly cluster.
“So that is all good news,” she said in her first appearance following two week’s of isolation after returning from Tokyo’s opening of the Olympic Games and formal confirmation of Queensland being awarded the 2032 Games.
However from 4 p.m., Cairns will go into a three-day lockdown after it was discovered an infected man had been in the community for 10 days.
Victoria recorded 11 new cases halfway through its one-week lockdown, all of them linked to previously reported cases although they were not in quarantine while infectious.
Federal minister Stuart Robert was asked on Sky New’s Sunday Agenda program to confirm reports the government had appealed to the U.S. Biden administration for additional vaccine does.
“There are continued conversations all around the world,” Robert said.
“You can be rest assured the government will leave no stone unturned when it comes to maximising the amount of vaccinations for our population, our Pacific Island family and of course our wider region.”
However, there remains hesitancy in getting vaccinated.
Labor frontbencher Michelle Rowland said one problem in her NSW electorate that covers Blacktown is the ability to get information.
“When you go to the information checker, you can get information in Icelandic but you can’t get information in Tamil and I have one of the highest proportions of Tamil speakers in all of Australia in my electorate,” she told Sky News.