Australia’s supply of the Pfizer vaccine should have already arrived from overseas, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese says.
His message comes as the European Union introduces export controls that would give those countries the power to stop manufacturers from sending their vaccine overseas if domestic supply has not be honoured.
The move could have implications for Australia, which is awaiting doses of the Pfizer vaccine so it can start rolling them out among priority groups.
Mr Albanese was on Monday asked if the federal government should be doing more to firm up the nation’s supply agreement.
“The supply should have been here by now,” he said. “It’s February.”
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) announced it had given the Pfizer vaccine provisional approval last week.
The government had pencilled Australia’s vaccine rollout to begin in mid to late February after the doses had arrived and been tested for quality.
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But Mr Albanese said the vaccine should have been rolled out once approval was given.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton was asked if he had concerns that the vaccine was taking too long to come to Australia.
“No, I don’t,” he told Sky News.
“Anthony Albanese was calling for this vaccine to be rolled out even before the TGA was prepared to authorise that rollout.
“There are no shortcuts here, when you’ve got a rollout of a new drug you want to make sure that it’s going to do what the manufacturers claim.”
In a speech at the National Press Club, Scott Morrison will announce an additional $1.9bn in funding to support the vaccine rollout.
Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce told Sunrise that Australia was at the whim of the “parochialism of countries overseas”.
He said it was important that the nation had established vaccine manufacturing capability for the AstraZeneca jab in Melbourne to prevent vaccine supply issues.