SYDNEY, July 9 (Reuters) – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday that Pfizer would increase COVID-19 vaccine shipments to around one million doses per week from July 19, more than tripling shipments, as Sydney is battling its worst outbreak of this year.
As many as 4.5 million doses of Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) that were due to arrive in September will be available next month, Morrison said.
“So it’s accelerating… and so we’re really hitting our goals now. I know we’ve had challenges over the past four months, but we’re hitting those goals now,” Morrison told broadcaster Nine News.
Morrison said Australia is expected to vaccinate all of its eligible residents by the end of the year, if medical advice on Pfizer’s vaccine is not changed and the supply remains uninterrupted.
Although Australia has fared better than many other developed countries in keeping its COVID-19 count relatively low, its vaccination rollout has been among the slowest due to supply constraints and evolving medical advice for its main vaccines AstraZeneca (AZN.L).
In the past three months, authorities have twice revised recommendations on the age group that can receive AstraZeneca doses due to concerns about blood clots. Only people over 60 years old are recommended to receive AstraZeneca vaccines. Read more
Just over 10% of Australia’s adult population of around 20 million have been fully vaccinated so far, with the federal government under pressure from states to increase the supply of doses of Pfizer, which are being administered to people under the age of 60.
Australia has to rely on overseas shipments for Pfizer vaccines, while doses of AstraZeneca are manufactured locally.
The vaccine supply decision comes as Sydney, Australia’s largest city, struggles to contain an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant despite two weeks of a hard lockdown. Read more
The state of New South Wales, of which Sydney is the capital, reported its largest daily increase in locally acquired COVID-19 cases this year on Thursday.
Report by Renju José; Editing by Cynthia Osterman
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