Dennis Shanahan and Yoni Bashan must be pretend journalists as they have written some garbage entitled ‘Flood of Pfizer finally here’. This was presumably written at the behest of Morrison or Murdoch. It began ‘Australia has clinched a potentially game-changing deal to triple its access to Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines to one million doses a week from July 19 as Sydney almost certainly does face another seven-day lockdown extension, with authorities struggling to contain the outbreak in the city’s southwest. Scott Morrison on Thursday announced a dramatic acceleration of the vaccination program in Sydney – including 150,000 extra doses of Pfizer and 150,000 AstraZeneca vaccines’1.
On Friday (July 9), Morrison said Australia was getting 1.7 million doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine a month. He said this month that would increase to 2.8 million doses and by August Australia would get 4.5 million doses, “so that is quite a ramp-up”. He stated that the government was always trying to get deliveries brought forward “so this is very, very welcome”2. But Pfizer issued a statement saying there was no change in the number of doses the company had agreed to deliver to Australia. “The total number of 40 million doses we are contracted to deliver to Australia over 2021 has not changed,” the company said in a statement2. So, the assertion that a ‘flood of Pfizer’ has arrived, as a simple lie. Currently, Australia gets between 300,000 and 500,000 doses of Pfizer per week to administer, but demand has outstripped that. From July 19th, Pfizer has confirmed that Australia can expect 1 million doses per week3.
Dr Norman Swan, from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Health Report, related this story which was corroborated be several sources: “On the 10th of July , there was a meeting between Pfizer and representatives of the Australian government regarding access to their vaccine. The government representatives insisted that Pfizer hand over all their IP, and then started trying to knock down the price4. In the end, the Australian government knocked back the offer of 40 million doses, which could have arrived in Australia in late January, 2020. This would have allowed Australia to have a similar vaccination rate to Israel (at the time of writing 60% of the population are fully vaccinated), the US (47%) or the UK (50%)5,6. Currently, only 8.2% of Australia’s population are fully vaccinated6.
Pfizer wanted to make Australia and Israel examples to the world, demonstrating how to roll out a vaccination program, and they simply wanted to know how many doses were required and when they were required. Israel ended up implementing a world-leading Covid-19 vaccine roll-out, with preferential vaccine access from Pfizer playing a major role. In exchange for access to the vaccine, Israel was to provide real-world data on safety and efficacy in their population-wide roll-out4.
Initially, Health Minister tried to hide the fact of the July 2020 meeting, stating that ‘official’ discussions with Pfizer had only started in December 2020, but eventually had to admit that the July meeting had taken place. After knocking back the Pfizer offer of 40 million doses, the Australian government came back later in the year and only ordered 10 million doses5.
While Australians are still struggling to get an appointment to be vaccinated (I had to book almost a month in advance for my first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine), in Israel, doctors have been calling their patients to offer them the vaccine since late February4. Australia could have been in a much better position with regard to the future pathway out of the Covid-19 pandemic, if the Morrison government had not simply gone for the cheapest option of the AstraZeneca as our primary vaccine. That idiocy will mean that as other countries get close to vaccinating their entire population and can begin to see lockdowns as a thing of the past, we will still have them to look forward to.
- Shanahan, D. & Bashan, Y. 2021. Flood of Pfizer finally here. The Australian, July 9