Two flights have delivered the first supplies of a deal struck between Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the UK in a massive Covid-19 win.
The first Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines arrived overnight with pictures revealing pallets of doses being unloaded off Qantas flights after a significant swap deal with the UK.
Last week Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Australia will receive four million doses of Pfizer this month in the deal, saying he owed British Prime Minister Boris Johnson “a beer” for the agreement between “mates”.
Approximately 450,000 vaccines were delivered to Sydney from London by two flights, with the doses to be tested by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) before they are released and distributed. The first flight carried 164,970 doses, while the second had 295,500.
The deliveries, along with an extra 500,000 Pfizer vaccines from Singapore that arrived last week and have already been cleared by the TGA, means Australia will have an additional 4.5 million vaccines as Delta spreads throughout communities.
The rest of the additional doses will arrive in the coming weeks.
“This will see us double the Pfizer doses that we have during September,” Mr. Morrison said.
“This month was a critical month to secure this because, in October, it surges to 11 million doses and again in November.
“We had strong supplies in those months, and that is why getting it this month was so important.”
The new doses will be distributed to states and territories per capita across GP clinics, pharmacies, and state vaccination hubs.
Australia has agreed to return four million doses from the national stockpile to the UK to use in its booster program.
“I want to thank (Mr. Johnson) for his personal commitment to this and his great friendship with Australia,” Mr. Morrison said of the arrangement.
“There’s been some very late-night discussions and negotiations and legal work taking place, especially for the past week, to bring this to a conclusion, but it has been a real commitment to Australia from Prime Minister Johnson.”
Mr. Morrison said the deal would speed up the rate of the vaccine rollout nationwide but would not set a date on when he now expected 70 percent of the population to be double dosed.
“Initial estimates had not seen us doing it until late in this year. Obviously, I think we will get to it a lot closer than that,” he said.
“This will enable us to bring forward significantly the opportunity for Australia to open up again under the national plan.”
Meanwhile, vaccination rates in Victoria are surging, with more than 60 percent of eligible Victorians who have now received at least one jab.