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Australia OKs Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, to begin inoculations in February

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison at Parliament House in Canberra on Monday.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison at a news conference at Parliament House in Canberra on Monday.
(Mick Tsikas / AAP Image via AP)

Australia’s medical regulator has approved use of its first COVID-19 vaccine, paving the way for inoculations to begin next month.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration gave provisional approval Monday for people 16 and over to be inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech. Residents and workers at nursing homes, front-line healthcare workers and quarantine workers are among the groups prioritized for the first doses.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed the development, saying that Australia was among the first countries to complete a comprehensive process to formally approve a vaccine rather than just grant an emergency approval.

Australia has an agreement for 10 million doses of the two-shot Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and an option to buy more if supplies allow.

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Health Minister Greg Hunt said Monday that the country overall had deals for 140 million vaccines, one of the world’s highest per-capita dosing rates.

The biggest of the pre-orders, conditional on regulatory approval, is 53.8 million doses of the vaccine developed by British drugmaker AstraZeneca and Oxford University, 50 million of which would be made in Australia in a partnership with Melbourne-based biopharmaceutical company CSL.

Australia is aiming to complete inoculations by October. The nation of 26 million people has reported fewer than 30,000 coronavirus cases and a little over 900 deaths.


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