Australia Drops Vaccination Target After AstraZeneca Change of Mind | News on the coronavirus pandemic

Plan to vaccinate everyone by the end of the year, abandoned after fears of a blood clot, a rapid change in medical advice on using AstraZeneca.

Australia has abandoned its goal of vaccinating nearly all of the country’s 26 million people against COVID-19 by the end of 2021 after medical authorities changed their advice on vaccine use to less 50 years old.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said Australia will not set any new targets for administering all first doses.

“The government has also neither set nor planned to set new targets for the completion of the first doses,” Morrison wrote on his Facebook page on Sunday. “If we want these doses to be completed before the end of the year, it is not possible to set such targets given the many uncertainties involved.

Australia’s vaccination program was built around the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, but regulators took a more cautious approach after a small number of cases of rare blood clots were found mostly in younger people who received the vaccine.

Medical authorities last week recommended that people under 50 get vaccinated instead by Pfizer BioNTech.

The frigid pace of the deployment and slippery targets – the entire population was believed to have been originally vaccinated at the end of October – fueled anger even as coronavirus cases in the country were all but wiped out.

Morrison said 1.16 million people received their doses on Sunday, well below the four million who were supposed to have received their injections at the end of March.

The AstraZeneca vaccine, which is cheap and easy to transport, was supposed to be the backbone of Australia’s A $ 7 billion ($ 5.32 billion) vaccination program with nearly four million doses ordered from the abroad and an additional 50 million to be produced at a facility in Melbourne.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison received his vaccine – the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine – in February [File: Steven Saphore/AFP]

The government had also ordered 20 million doses of the Pfizer jab – although only around a million were delivered – and doubled that figure last week after the medical opinion changed.

Critics, including the opposition Labor Party, said the government should have made more deals with vaccine developers to diversify its vaccine portfolio. He’s also signed up for the Novavax jab, which has yet to get approval, and is part of the World Health Organization’s COVAX facility.

Morrison reassured Australians by saying that 1,000 more doctors would be recruited for the deployment this week and noting that 142,000 doses had been given to the elderly in more than 1,000 care homes, of which more than 46,000 were second doses in more of 500 establishments.

“We will just continue to work together to produce, distribute and administer vaccines in the safest and most efficient way possible,” he said, noting that the timeliness of Australia’s vaccination program was in line. to that of other countries, including Germany and France, and ahead of Canada and Japan.

Australia’s difficult response to the virus – closing borders, imposing hotel quarantines and an effective screening and testing system – has largely eradicated COVID-19, allowing people to move on with their lives as well. habit.

But border closures have also left tens of thousands of Australians unable to return home and are preventing those already in the country from leaving.

It has reported just under 29,400 coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, with 909 deaths.

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