While vaccines like AstraZeneca can already be made in Australia, other mRNA vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna are made overseas.
With concerns the rollout is stalling due to people’s fears of blood clotting and adverse reactions to vaccines already available, the Federal Government has now put a callout for more companies to make an application to manufacture other vaccines on home soil.
Infectious disease physician Professor Sanjaya Senanayake says vaccines being made locally will “help enormously” in Australia’s fight against coronavirus.
“In the past, whenever we have needed boosters because a pathogen has mutated, it has generally taken about six months to get that up and running in a laboratory setting,” Professor Senanayake told Today.
“With the mRNA vaccines it only takes six weeks. So that in itself is a big game-changer.
Professor Senanayake said although the government is reaching out for local manufacturer interest, it won’t change anything anytime soon.
“If we are looking for our own mRNA vaccine to help with the rollout it won’t be in 2021,” he said.
He said it was important Australians were rolling up their sleeves and taking advantage of the vaccines that are currently available rather than waiting for locally made options.
“Obviously from a rollout point of view, we want those vaccines going into people’s arms,” he said.
Australia has so far distributed more than 3.3 million vaccines, including 2.1 million AstraZeneca doses and 974,000 Pfizer doses.
While the government is reaching out for private companies to manufacture locally, the earliest this would help with the national vaccine rollout would be 2022.
Doctors are urging people aged over 50 not to delay getting the vaccine now in hopes of getting an alternative one later in the year.
The Australian Medical Association says vulnerable Australians need to be protected from a possible outbreak as we head into winter.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration has confirmed four new cases of blood clotting linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine with another two possibly linked, including a young Queensland nurse.
This takes the total adverse reaction rate to 6.4 per 1000 doses – with an adverse reaction being classified as anything from clotting to arm pain or fatigue or headaches.
Among the most serious of the new cases is a 53-year-old man who is in Intensive Care in South Australia.
He received his first dose of the vaccine on Tuesday May 4 and was hospitalised two weeks later on Tuesday May 18 with severe abdominal pain.
South Australia’s Chief Public Health Officer, Professor Nicola Spurrier, said the man’s treating doctors recognised his symptoms immediately and began specialised treatment.
“Unfortunately, he is in a very serious condition in Intensive Care and my thoughts and thoughts from others in SA Health are with him and his family at the moment,” Professor Spurrier said.
“This is obviously of great concern, but it is not something that is not unexpected.”
Also among the newly confirmed cases is an 18-year-old woman from Queensland and a 57-year-old woman from Victoria.
An earlier case in a 79-year-old Victorian man has now been confirmed as related to the AstraZeneca shot.
Two other new cases – an 87-year-old South Australian woman and a 71-year-old woman from Victoria – were deemed probably related to the vaccine but inquiries are continuing.
It brings the total number of cases of TTS linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine in Australia to 24, of which 21 have been officially confirmed by the TGA.