Government secures 25 million doses of Moderna vaccine

5 minute read

And Pfizer/BioNTech is to apply to register its vaccine for 12-15-year-olds.

Welcome to The Medical Republic’s COVID Catch-Up.

It’s the day’s covid-19 news in one convenient post. Email with any tips, comments or feedback.

13 May

The Moderna covid-19 vaccine is coming to Australia. The federal government announced the purchase of 25 million doses of the mRNA vaccine; 10 million of which will start arriving this year, and a further 15 million doses of variant-updated boosters starting in 2022.
The vaccine still has to get TGA approval, but Moderna says it will submit the application shortly.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt also said that the government is looking to support the manufacture of mRNA vaccines in Australia, and Moderna has flagged that it is keen to open a commercial operation in Australia.
The vaccine is administered as two doses 28 days apart, although that can be stretched to 42 days, and trial data suggests it is 92% protective against covid-19 from 14 days after the first dose. It also appears to be protective against the South African and Brazilian variants.
TMR’s Francine Crimmins writes: However, some GPs have said patients could become confused as to whether it was better to wait for the Moderna vaccine, rather than accept what was being offered to them.
In a webinar update for GPs today, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Michael Kidd said that advice from the TGA and ATAGI would determine the age range for the Moderna vaccine.
“The first doses coming into Australia initially will be what we call the ‘historic vaccine,’ which is the [Moderna] one that’s been rolling out over recent months,” he told the webinar. “But by next year, we will likely get doses which have been modified – hopefully to address some of the variants which are appearing around the world.”
Dr Lucas de Toca, first assistant secretary covid-19 primary care response at the Department of Health, said that despite the news of Moderna entering the Australian market, the only available option for people aged 50 years, at least for now, would be AstraZeneca.“
Ultimately the question is not AstraZeneca or Pfizer or Moderna right now, the question is AstraZeneca or no vaccine right now,” he said.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine could soon be available for 12-15 year olds in Australia, as the Therapeutic Goods Administration paves the way for provisional registration in adolescents.
The announcement comes a day after the US Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorisation for the vaccine in those aged 12 years and over.
The vaccine is already approved for 16 years and older in Australia.

Francine Crimmins writes: General practices will soon be able to transfer doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, either between linked practices as part of a larger group, or by local practices organising among themselves.
The change of strategy was made by heath authorities this week after GP practices contacted the DoH over AstraZeneca doses which were approaching their expiry date.
Health officials said the change should provide practices with more autonomy to redirect vaccine stock to areas of demand.
The DoH is currently finalising the process which would include a notification system within the ordering system so the Vaccines Operations Centre can keep track of where vaccines were being sent.

Seven more cases of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia – three confirmed and four probable – have been reported following vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine, bringing the total number of cases in Australia to 18.
According to the latest update from the TGA, all the new cases are aged over 50 years, with most in their seventies.
One person is in hospital in a stable condition and responding well to treatment.

Ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft are offering free rides to covid-19 vaccination appointments in the US until July 4, according to an announcement from the White House.
With President Biden declaring that he wants 70% of the US adult population to get at least one vaccination by July, the government is partnering with Uber and Lyft to make that easier.

Vaccine manufacturers have done well out of the pandemic (and that’s an uncomfortable sentence on many levels).
According to Statista, Johnson & Johnson’s net income/profit has increased 6.9% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to 2020, Pfizer’s has gone up 45%, AstraZeneca’s has gone up 167%, and Moderna has gone from making a loss in 2020 to earning US$1.2 billion in the first quarter of 2021.

You might have noticed that we’ve become a little lazy with the shift key in today’s blog.
My right pinky finger is delighted to announce that TMR is changing our style from COVID-19 to covid-19.

Here are the latest covid-19 infection numbers from around Australia – including new cases in the past 24 hours – to 9pm Wednesday:
National – 29,947 with 910 deaths
ACT – 124 (0)
NSW – 5546 (4)
NT – 167 (0)
QLD – 1583 (3)
SA – 741 (1)
TAS – 234 (0)
VIC – 20,537 (1)
WA – 1015 (0)

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