Australia’s peak immunology organisation has called for the federal government to halt its planned rollout of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, saying it might not be effective enough to eliminate the bastard virus in the community.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports The Australian and New Zealand Society for Immunology (ASI) point to a recent study, which found the AstraZeneca vaccine to be 62% effective in preventing someone from contracting COVID-19.
The organisation has raised concerns that 62% figure may not be enough to ensure herd immunity – the point where so many people are immune to the virus, it simply can’t pass through the community.
Other vaxes, like the Pfizer/BionNTech and Moderna formulations, are thought to be around 95% effective.
“Given we have fantastic vaccines against this, I think it would be wise to not rely on the AstraZeneca vaccine for controlling the virus in Australia,” ASI chief Professor Stephen Turner told the paper.
The Herald adds that another group, the Australasian Virology Society, had some serious internal discussions about the AstraZeneca plans. However, as of Tuesday night, that organisation officially supports the rollout.
Don’t take this to mean the AstraZeneca vaccine isn’t safe, mind you; Professor Turner said Australia could use a rollout of the AstraZeneca formulation to “blunt” COVID-19’s potential to spread through Australia.
Speaking on The Today Show Wednesday morning, Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly, said all of this discussion shouldn’t impact trust in vaccine safety.
He also pointed to different studies which found the AstraZeneca cocktail to be around 90% effective, adding that, at the very least, we have an “effective vaccine” on our hands.
Also appearing on The Today Show, infectious diseases physician Professor Michelle Ananda-Rajah agreed with Professor Kelly, saying, “when you’re offered a vaccine, take the vaccine”.
But she added the federal government should be “finessing up our strategy and making sure that we deliver for Australia the most effective vaccines.”
"We need a vaccine like we need oxygen. When you're offered a vaccine, take the vaccine."
— The Today Show (@TheTodayShow) January 12, 2021
Australia has invested in a range of different vaccines, but the AstraZeneca recipe stands at the forefront of the nation’s rollout plans.
The Department of Health says Australia has secured 53.8 million doses of the vaccine, which is delivered in two shots.
Jabs are expected to begin early this year, once the vaccine cops approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week said the AstraZeneca shot could receive that approval in February.
Australia has secured 10 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, with all signs pointing to TGA approval arriving this month.
The ABC reports most Aussies are eventually slated to receive the AstraZeneca jabs, with at-risk individuals to cop the Pfizer/BioNTech shots in the first phase of the rollout.