Australia's medical regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, has given a second coronavirus vaccine the green light as Australians anxiously await the rollout of the vaccination programme.
The TPA announced today it had granted provisional approval to AstraZeneca Pty Ltd for its Covid-19 vaccine, making it the second coronavirus vaccine to receive regulatory approval in the country.
It means the jab is provisionally approved and included in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods for the immunisation of individuals 18 and over, with the vaccination of those aged over 65 should be decided on a case by case basis.
Victoria's chief health officer Brett Sutton welcomed the development as "terrific news".
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"Who wouldn't be delighted at the prospect of another vaccine, especially one locally manufactured, that will deliver millions of doses to Australians. I can't wait to be vaccinated when my time in the queue comes. And looking forward to seeing it roll out across the country," Sutton said.
"I hope it lifts spirits. The mental health anguish of this pandemic has been extraordinary. It literally represents the beginning of the end of this pandemic as we roll out a vaccine so it is incredibly positive to see that development and know that Pfizer vaccine will start to roll out in our hotel quarantine system, first ports of entry, our aged care and health sector staff and residents is fantastic news."
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the vaccine's approval was a breakthrough in the "enormous exercise" that is the national rollout.
"The vaccination programme is critical to our ongoing management of the Covid-19 pandemic," he said.
"And the vaccines that we have, they address the critical issue of serious disease and indeed, the risk of fatality that can arise from Covid-19 and increasingly we're seeing positive signs about its impact on transmissibility as well. This is an enormous exercise that requires many steps. The planning of the strategy, the securing of the vaccines, going through the important approvals process which can give Australians confidence."
The approval allows the second dose to be administered from four to 12 weeks after the first, and the provisional approval of the vaccine is valid for two years, meaning it can now be legally supplied in Australia.