First batches of Australian-manufactured vaccine released

3 minute read

And Slovakia's mass testing campaign may have halved its COVID-19 infection rate.

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March 24

Australian-made COVID-19 vaccines are now available, as the first four batches – representing more than 832,000 doses – of the AstraZeneca/Oxford roll out of the CSL-Seqirus manufacturing facility in Melbourne today.
Each batch has been tested and approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, the TGA said in a statement.
The release of locally-manufactured vaccines couldn’t have come at a better time, with the New York Times reporting that the EU is planning more regulation to snaffle vaccine shipments destined for overseas.
Recently, a shipment of AstraZeneca vaccines bound for Australia was held by Italy as part of a dispute with the manufacturer over missed deadlines and shortages for local deliveries.

Mass testing of the population of Slovakia using rapid antigen tests was associated with a 58% reduction in the prevalence of COVID-19 in just one week.
A paper published in Science reports the outcomes of the nation’s testing regime, which involved more than 5.2 million tests being administered in three rounds to up to 84% of the population of the four most affected counties of Slovakia.
The prevalence of positive tests ranged from 3.9% in the first round to just 0.6% in the third round. Those who tested positive were required to quarantine – in some cases with their entire household – and were also subject to extensive contact tracing.
The authors noted that it was not possible to separate out the effects of the mass testing from other public health interventions, but such a substantial reduction in cases – particularly during a period when schools and workplaces were open – was striking.
“This, alongside the inability in December to control the rebounding spread of SARS-CoV-2 in Slovakia through even more stringent contact restrictions indicates the mass testing campaigns were responsible for a large share of case reduction in the previous months,” they wrote.

New COVID-19 infections globally have risen for the fourth week running, with France, Poland and the Balkan region reporting the highest numbers of new cases per 100,000 population.
According to the latest WHO update, the number of new deaths has also plateaued after declining for several weeks.

Here are the latest COVID-19 infection numbers from around Australia:
National – 29,211 with 909 deaths
ACT – 123 (0)
NSW – 5270 (4)
NT – 106 (0)
QLD – 1422 (3)
SA – 642 (0)
TAS – 234 (0)
VIC – 20,483 (0)
WA – 931 (0)

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