Logistical concerns over rollout of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to remote Queensland communities


A north Queensland doctor is warning he has “no faith” that regional Australia will see a mass distribution of the Pfizer vaccine.

The regional COVID-19 vaccine rollout has been thrown into turmoil by the Federal Government’s changed medical advice.

Last night, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told the country the AstraZeneca vaccine would no longer be recommended to people under 50 years old. 

The vaccine will still be available to those eligible, but recipients will be warned of the risk of blood-clotting. 

It comes as Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young announced every region across the state would be set up with a Pfizer vaccine hub, in light of the new TGA storage requirements.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the AstraZeneca vaccine would continue to be administered in the Torres Strait due to the high rates of COVID-19 in nearby Papua New Guinea. 

Michael Clements, a Townsville-based general practitioner and chair of Northern Australia Primary Health Limited, said he believed the announcement would likely delay the regional rollout even further.

“This setback is really going to generate more hesitancy and more of those conversations,” Dr Clements said.

“Sadly, that means the timeline to get Australia vaccinated and back on track and integrated into the international community is going to be stretched out for another six months, or even a year.

“We’re going to be locked down again, wearing masks again, and we’re going to have cancelled holidays, and we’re going to be missing out on seeing our loved ones.”

Dr Clements said the logistics of delivering more Pfizer vaccines would amplify the delay.

“It could be well into next year before Pfizer will have anywhere near the doses that we might need,” he said.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has changed its storage and transportation requirements on the vaccine.

While longer term storage at temperatures between -90C to -60°C is still required for unopened vials, the TGA has approved storage and transportation at domestic freezer temperatures (-25°C to -15°C) for up to two weeks.

Nine hundred kilometres west, Mount Isa general practitioner Michael Mbaogu has been administering the AstraZeneca vaccine to eligible residents of north-west Queensland.

Dr Mbaogu said rural and remote facilities would need more government support to administer the Pfizer vaccine.

“We would need support to acquire that particular type of vaccine freezer.”

However, Dr Mbaogu said it would still be possible without the technology, if there was a system where vaccines were frequently delivered to the clinic.

“I’m aware you can store the Pfizer vaccine in a regular vaccine fridge for up to 72 hours, so we can do that,” he said.

“If there is an arrangement to ship the vaccines to us, that would give us at least three days to use them; that is also workable.”

The Rural Doctors’ Association of Australia (RDAA) met with Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd and Federal Health Department staff on Friday morning to discuss the regional rollout.

RDAA CEO Peta Rutherford said they had been assured access for rural areas would be a key point of discussion with states.

However, she said delivery of the vaccine would need to be re-thought in places like Queensland.

She said that in some states, vaccination hubs were not accessible to rural and remote areas.

“If they were able to create some hubs in places more inland —Toowoomba, Mount Isa — it can be distributed.

“Once [the Pfizer vaccine] is basically defrosted, for lack of a better word, it can be used within five days so with some good planning and some good co-ordination, we could actually do it.”

Ms Rutherford said it was essential teams of doctors and nurses, trained in delivering the Pfizer vaccine, were in place and able to travel to remote and rural communities 

With winter approaching, she said finding a solution was especially urgent.

“With our grey nomad season about to commence, and with school holidays, there’s a lot of movement across state borders,” Ms Rutherford said.

“We need to make sure that these frontline healthcare workers are given the same support and provision as frontline healthcare workers in the city.”

On the Darling Downs, Indigenous not-for-profit Carbal Medical Services is administrating a large proportion of Toowoomba’s vaccines.

CEO Brian Hewitt said increasing the supply of alternative vaccines was the Federal Government’s best option to maintain confidence in the rollout.

“We’re talking about a very, very rare possibility of a reaction to this vaccine – very rare compared to all other medicines and vaccines that are distributed,” Mr Hewitt said.

“Any concern in the current climate is likely to deter people from getting the vaccine, and that would be a far worse outcome than any side effects to any medication.”

Mr Hewitt said the Pfizer vaccine would not be a viable alternative for all communities.

“Outside of hospital situations, it’s very difficult to store and keep supplies of that for any length of time,” he said.

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SA to open two new COVID-19 vaccination hubs in Adelaide if Pfizer supplies arrive



The South Australian government will open two new COVID-19 vaccination hubs in Adelaide’s northern and southern suburbs, pending sufficient supply of the Pfizer vaccine.

The hubs are expected to be located in the Playford Civic Centre in Elizabeth and in the old Masters site at Noarlunga by early June. 

Premier Steven Marshall said both of the sites would be dedicated Pfizer facilities, pending supply of the vaccine from the federal government. 

“Following meetings with the Commonwealth yesterday, we now have more clarity on projected vaccine supplies for additional clinics in South Australia,” he said.

“This means that planning for clinics at the Playford Civic Centre and the old Masters site at Noarlunga can progress and we expect both these sites to be established and getting jabs in arms by early June. If supplies permit, they will be activated earlier.

“These two hubs will play a critical role in ensuring a safe and effective vaccine rollout across South Australia.” 

Earlier in the week, the state government announced it would be opening a vaccination hub at the Adelaide Showgrounds on April 30, to vaccinate healthcare staff and emergency workers, who are aged under 50. 

A community vaccination clinic will open in Port Lincoln on Monday at the Aboriginal Community Council before moving to a bigger site at the Port Lincoln Bowls Club from April 27. 

Health and Wellbeing Minister Stephen Wade said the Port Lincoln clinic would focus on vaccinating adults aged over 70 and Aboriginal adults aged over 55. 

“We also continue our work to establish a community clinic at Mount Gambier and are sending a vaccination team to Kangaroo Island,” he said. 

“Opening these two hubs, along with the other clinics being planned, shows the agility of our health teams in responding to the latest health advice and the needs of our community.

“The level of vaccination in South Australia is closely aligned to our share of the population and opening more clinics across the state will help us to further scale up this rollout.” 

According to the state government, more than 100,000 South Australians have been vaccinated through the rollout to date. 

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Queensland to recalibrate Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine rollout across the state as Torres Strait pauses AstraZeneca program


The COVID-19 vaccination rollout in the Torres Strait Islands has been paused by the local health service, as it works through the implications of changed advice for administering the AstraZeneca vaccine to people under 50.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said today the rollout would continue in the Torres Strait, located close to COVID-19-stricken Papua New Guinea, as authorities worked to recalibrate the rollout, which would include setting up more Pfizer hubs across the state.

Late on Thursday night, Australian health authorities advised that the Pfizer vaccine should be given to Australians aged under 50, amid concerns of rare blood clots potentially linked to the AstraZeneca vaccination. 

Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young has encouraged people over 50 to continue coming forward to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“It is important that older people who are not at that increased risk of having those adverse events from the AstraZeneca vaccine continue to come forward and get vaccinated,” Dr Young said.

“We don’t know when we might have an outbreak of COVID-19 — we need to be prepared, so people must come forward and get vaccinated.

Pfizer vaccine hubs will be set up in every Queensland Health hospital and health service across the state, in light of the new storage requirements by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

“Originally we were only going to put them in the larger ones, but now we’ll be rolling them out across the whole state — so there will be Pfizer vaccine available across the whole state,” Dr Young said.

She said authorities had recently revised storage advice for Pfizer doses and it could now be stored for two weeks in a normal freezer, rather than a freezer at -70 degrees Celsius, and for five days in a normal fridge.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the vaccine rollout was “business as usual”.

“We accept the health advice about the continued rollout of AstraZeneca,” she said.

That includes vaccinating people in the Torres Strait Islands, near Papua New Guinea, which is grappling with a major outbreak.

“The continuation of the rollout of the vaccine program in the Torres Strait is absolutely critical,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“That has been happening because of the high rates in Papua New Guinea … We will absolutely be monitoring the rollout up there, but the rollout will continue in the Torres Strait Islands.”

Tony Brown, executive director of medical services for the Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Services (TCHHS), said the changed recommendations had significant implications for the region, where most of the population was under 50 years old.

Torres Shire Council Mayor Vonda Malone said about 800 of the area’s residents had been vaccinated so far, and the news had caused concern among that group.

“The news certainly rocked confidence around the safety of the vaccine,” she said.

“I’ve been informed by Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Services that this will put a direct pause on the continuation and rollout of the vaccine as far as it continuing throughout the Torres Strait — at this stage, we’re not sure when that will occur.

“With the vaccine, it is something that we have to have to ensure we have that protection because of the close proximity of the Torres Strait with the looming cases in PNG.”

She said: “we’ve just got to ensure that it’s safe and our communities are understanding the possible effects from the vaccine”.

“I was awaiting the rollout for Thursday Island, which wasn’t due until later this month, but at the same time those up in the top western communities were the first to get the vaccine,” she said.

“I believe the Torres and Cape HHS team will be going back to the top western communities as of next week to just continue the monitoring of the first rollout of vaccines, so there will be some follow-up in that respect.

“I’ve called for Torres and Cape [Health Service] to really get some advice out and some reassurance for those who’ve already received the vaccine for how they can best make those assessments and work with their doctors to make sure their health and wellbeing is intact.”

Ms Palaszczuk also said the Commonwealth had agreed to publish more regular data about how many doses were being sent to the states.

“That’s actually going to be quite transparent now, so we’ll have that information coming to us on a much more regular basis, which is great news,” she said.

Authorities said Queensland had now administered vaccines to everyone in the 1a category — including healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients and quarantine hotel workers — and has moved onto the 1b category, which includes other health workers and frontline workers such as paramedics, police officers and correctional services staff.

Queensland had no locally acquired COVID-19 cases overnight, though one new case was detected in a returned traveller in hotel quarantine.

The state has 63 active cases, with 9,700 tests were carried out on Thursday. 

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Can Australia produce mRNA COVID-19 vaccines such as Pfizer?


Vaccine experts say Australia has the potential to make mRNA vaccines such as Pfizer on home soil — but it will take time and investment to ramp up domestic manufacturing capabilities.

This follows health authorities advising that the Pfizer vaccine should be given to Australians aged under 50, amid concerns of rare blood clots potentially linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Archa Fox, an mRNA researcher at the University of Western Australia, says there is nothing stopping us from making the Pfizer vaccine here.

“This is what we’ve been saying for almost a year. We could be making it. We just need investment,” she says.

“It is actually not that complicated to do from a scientific point of view. 

“The technology, the equipment — it exists, we can buy it, we just need, essentially, the will.”

RMIT University professor of immunology Magdalena Plebanski agrees.

“Scientifically, we are mature and ready to take on a challenge like that as a country,” she says.

Dr Fox says it’s frustrating knowing the Pfizer vaccine wasn’t backed harder by the federal government last year, but admits it would have been difficult for experts weighing up the options.

“It’s all very well and good to say with the benefit of hindsight that we should have invested in this one early on,” she said.

“Because at the start of the pandemic, and middle of last year, there were so many vaccines being developed that it was hard to know which one was going to be the right one.”

So, why aren’t mRNA vaccines such as Pfizer already being made in Australia?

And why did Australia choose to manufacture AstraZeneca in the first place?

Here’s what we know so far. 

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.

Play Video. Duration: 3 minutes 13 seconds

The AstraZeneca vaccine presents minimal risk for a profound reward.

Pfizer vs AstraZeneca

Both Pfizer and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines work in the same basic way.

They train the body’s immune system to recognise the spike protein in SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19).

But they do so using different technologies.

AstraZeneca uses a harmless chimpanzee adenovirus to deliver DNA into our cells.

Pfizer, on the other hand, uses messenger RNA (mRNA) encased in a lipid layer, which, until recently, had not been approved for use in a human vaccine.

The mRNA — the active ingredient — is very fragile, which is why it needs to be kept at between -60C and -90C.

Professor Plebanski says because only a few companies in the world manufactured these specialised lipids, it’s led to a shortage of supply.

“Even Pfizer itself has acknowledged that some of the components are quite limited,” she says.

Professor Plebanski compared building the vaccine to assembling a Lego structure, where one of the main blocks was hard to find. 

Dr Fox agrees, explaining that single-use consumable plastic bags that went into the reactor vessels during vaccine production are in short supply.

Supply issues with essential components of the Pfizer vaccine are one reason why Australia wouldn’t be able to start manufacturing this jab tomorrow.

So if Australia is to start producing its own mRNA vaccines, Dr Fox says it should also look to make the components as well, eliminating supply issues.

Why Australia’s making AstraZeneca

It essentially comes down to already having the manufacturing capabilities.

To make the AstraZeneca vaccine, manufacturers must grow large volumes of mammalian cells, infect them with the adenovirus, filter the adenovirus out, then dilute, test and bottle it. 

“There are facilities in Australia [with] the experience to grow safe viral-vector-based vaccines,” Professor Plebanski says.

As such, the decision to back the AstraZeneca vaccine was made by the federal government in December 2020.

Professor Plebanski says at the moment, Australia simply does not have the manufacturing capability to make mRNA vaccines at the scale we’d need — but we could with enough investment.

As well as these logistical issues, AstraZeneca as a company simply doesn’t subcontract in the same way Pfizer does. 

“AstraZeneca is very happy to outsource supply,”  Professor Plebanski says.

However, Pfizer prefers to maintain its rights to the vaccine and manufacture it as well. 

Pfizer doses purchased by the Australian government will be manufactured in the United States, Belgium and Germany.

And Pfizer will start closing down its Australian manufacturing facilities next year.

But Pfizer isn’t the only COVID-19 mRNA vaccine on the market — Moderna, which is rolling out in the US, uses similar technology — which means there are potentially other avenues to getting a local licence.

‘Potential’ for future

Dr Fox says even though Australia-made mRNA vaccines aren’t on the cards for the first generation of COVID-19 vaccines, they might be in future.

“I don’t think it’s too late. I don’t think this technology is going away. It’s here to stay,” she says. 

The other benefit of manufacturing mRNA vaccines is that it’s easier to “tweak” the vaccine to target new and emerging variants, Dr Fox says. 

“It’s potentially much more straightforward to tweak the sequence for the variant,” she says.



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South African variant of COVID-19 can ‘break through’ Pfizer vaccine, Israeli study says


The coronavirus variant discovered in South Africa can “break through” the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to some extent, a real-world data study in Israel has found, though its prevalence in the country is low and the research has not been peer reviewed.

The study, released on Saturday, compared almost 400 people who had tested positive for COVID-19, 14 days or more after they received one or two doses of the vaccine, against the same number of unvaccinated patients with the disease.

It matched age and gender, among other characteristics.

The South African variant, B.1.351, was found to make up about 1 per cent of all the COVID-19 cases across all the people studied, according to the study by Tel Aviv University and Israel’s largest healthcare provider, Clalit.

But among patients who had received two doses of the vaccine, the variant’s prevalence rate was eight times higher than those unvaccinated — 5.4 per cent versus 0.7 per cent.

This suggests the vaccine is less effective against the South African variant, compared with the original coronavirus and a variant first identified in Britain that has come to comprise nearly all COVID-19 cases in Israel, the researchers said.

“We found a disproportionately higher rate of the South African variant among people vaccinated with a second dose, compared to the unvaccinated group,” said Tel Aviv University’s Adi Stern.

The researchers cautioned, though, that the study only had a small sample size of people infected with the South African variant because of its rarity in Israel.

They also said the research was not intended to deduce overall vaccine effectiveness against any variant, since it only looked at people who had already tested positive for COVID-19, not at overall infection rates.

Previous test results

A health care worker and a syringe
Some previous studies have indicated that the Pfizer shot was less potent against the B.1.351 variant.(

Reuters

)

Pfizer and BioNTech could not be immediately reached for comment outside business hours.

The companies said on April 1 that their vaccine was around 91 per cent effective at preventing COVID-19, citing updated trial data that included participants inoculated for up to six months.

In respect to the South African variant, they said that among a group of 800 study volunteers in South Africa, where B.1.351 is widespread, there were nine cases of COVID-19, all of which occurred among participants who got the placebo.

Of those nine cases, six were among individuals infected with the South African variant.

Some previous studies have indicated that the Pfizer/BioNTech shot was less potent against the B.1.351 variant than against other variants of the coronavirus, but still offered a robust defence.

While the results of the study may cause concern, the low prevalence of the South African strain was encouraging, according to Ms Stern.

“Even if the South African variant does break through the vaccine’s protection, it has not spread widely through the population,” said Ms Stern, adding that the British variant may be “blocking” the spread of the South African strain.

Almost 53 per cent of Israel’s 9.3 million population has received both Pfizer doses.

Israel has largely reopened its economy in recent weeks while the pandemic appears to be receding, with infection rates, severe illness and hospitalisations dropping sharply.

About a third of Israelis are below the age of 16, which means they are still not eligible for the shot.

Reuters

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Pfizer recommended for adults under age of 50; Tropical Cyclone approaches WA; New hope for Luna Park Ghost Train inquest


The decision to attach an advisory for under 50s to the AstraZenca vaccine is a precautionary measure, Secretary of the Department of Health Professor Brendan Murphy said.

“…this is a very, very rare event, and it is a highly precautionary position that Australia can take because we’re in a fortunate position with COVID,” he said.

“All vaccines have adverse effects. Some serious. Flu vaccines do. The Pfizer vaccine has a risk of anaphylaxis, which we’ve seen.

“But this syndrome, after all of the work we’ve done with the UK and Europe, does seem to be a real syndrome, and we now feel that, at an abundance of caution, given that this syndrome seems to occur mainly in younger people for whom the risk of severe COVID is not so great, that there is a basis to have a preferred recommendation for those under 50,” Professor Murphy said.

There is now work in place to exchange Pfizer vaccines already sent to aged care facilities with AstraZeneca shots.

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Pfizer coronavirus vaccine now preferred over AstraZeneca for adults in Australia under 50



Authorities have recommended adults under 50 years of age in Australia not receive the AstraZeneca vaccine after a link between the jab and a rare blood clotting side effect was established.

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is now the preferred shot for adults in Australia under the age of 50, after the government received new medical advice around the AstraZeneca jab following confirmation of a link to rare blood clots.

In a surprise press conference on Thursday night, Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation had met after European authorities confirmed the link, and recommended the Pfizer shot be preferred for adults under 50 who have not already received their first AstraZeneca dose.

Under Australia’s vaccine strategy, most Australians were expected to receive the AstraZeneca shot.

Now the advice is that adults under 50 only get the first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in circumstances where the “benefit clearly outweighs the risk” for the individual, Professor Kelly said.

He said those who had already received their first AstraZeneca dose without serious adverse effects could safely get their second.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the new advice would be provided to the medical community, and it was ultimately up to individual Australians and their doctors as to how they proceed.

“The advice here today is not to not have the AstraZeneca vaccine. There is not a prohibition on the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for persons under 50 – there is an expression of a preference,” Mr Morrison said.


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The development comes after the European findings on the AstraZeneca vaccine were made public, with women and people under 60 said to be at a higher risk of developing the rare clotting side effect.

Department of Health Secretary Brendan Murphy stressed clotting was “a very, very rare event” and Australia was taking a “highly precautionary position”.

“I want to reiterate that we are strongly encouraging those 50 and over to take up the AstraZeneca vaccine. It is a highly effective vaccine at preventing severe COVID,” Professor Murphy said on Thursday night.

“The risk [of clotting side effects] is extraordinarily low.”

Health Minister Greg Hunt said the advice was that the AstraZeneca shot remained a highly effective vaccine that was safe for over 50s.

Later stages of vaccine rollout to be ‘recalibrated’

Professor Murphy said authorities would be replanning the COVID-19 vaccine program’s priorities and reviewing the purchases they had made.

He said the initial stage targeting vulnerable Australians would pretty much continue as planned.

“Those over 70 and 80 will continue to get AstraZeneca at their GPs and be confident in its efficacy and its safety,” he said.

“For those healthcare workers under 50, they will now be prioritised to Pfizer and that might delay that particular phase of [stage] 1b.

“The important thing is that all of the vulnerable people, those vulnerable to severe COVID, will be covered as we planned by the middle of the year.”

Professor Murphy acknowledged authorities would have to “recalibrate” and reprioritise Pfizer doses as the wider vaccine rollout proceeds.

“We will have to replan the prioritisation of the program, replan with the states and territories … how we will deliver vaccines. We’ll have to come back at a later stage with better estimates on when things in each phase will be completed,” he said.

Australia is not the only country to make AstraZeneca rollout changes in response to blood clot concerns.

The United Kingdom is offering people aged under 30 an alternative vaccine due to the risk, while other nations are considering warning labels.

The Philippine health department on Thursday suspended the use of the AstraZeneca shot for people under 60.

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Elderly Queensland woman dies hours after receiving Pfizer coronavirus shot


An elderly woman has died in a Queensland aged care facility just hours after receiving her coronavirus vaccination.

The 82-year-old woman was a resident at the Yurana aged care facility in Springwood, west of Brisbane.

She received her shot of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccination around 10am this morning. Emergency services were called less than three hours later, at 1.30pm, to reports the woman was unresponsive.

RELATED: Precious COVID vaccines being ‘wasted’

RELATED: Most common side effects Aussies report from AstraZeneca vaccine

The Courier-Mail reported the woman’s death may not be linked to the vaccine as she was suffering from other health issues, including lung disease.

A Blue Care employee, the parent company of the Yurana home, confirmed a woman had died after receiving the vaccine.

A Queensland Police spokesman confirmed to news.com.au a report was being prepared for the coroner to understand how the woman had died.

Her death is being treated as non-suspicious.

About 855,000 people across the country have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of April 5, despite the Prime Minister predicting that four million Aussies would be vaccinated by the end of March.

Scott Morrison today said the reason for the discrepancy was because millions of doses didn’t arrive in Australia.

“Three-point-one million of the contracted vaccines that we had been relying upon in early January when we’d set out a series of targets did not turn up in Australia,” he said.

Aged care facilities ban visitors after Brisbane cluster

Queensland’s aged care homes are still in semi-lockdown after a cluster of cases hit the Brisbane region earlier this month.

Visitors to all aged care facilities were banned on April 1 and will be banned until April 15.

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Real-world study shows Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines give ‘substantial’ protection after first shot



COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer Inc with BioNTech SE and Moderna Inc reduced the risk of infection by 80 per cent two weeks or more after the first of two shots, according to data from a real-world US study released on Monday.

The risk of infection fell 90 per cent by two weeks after the second shot, the study of just under 4,000 vaccinated US healthcare personnel and first responders found.

The study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) evaluated the vaccines’ ability to protect against infection, including infections that did not cause symptoms. Previous clinical trials by the companies evaluated their vaccine’s efficacy in preventing illness from COVID-19.

The findings of the real-world use of these messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines confirm the efficacy demonstrated in the large controlled clinical trials conducted before they received emergency use authorisations from the US Food and Drug Administration.

The study looked at the effectiveness of the mRNA vaccines among 3,950 participants in six states over a 13-week period from 14 December 2020 to 13 March 2021.

“The authorised mRNA COVID-19 vaccines provided early, substantial real-world protection against infection for our nation’s healthcare personnel, first responders, and other frontline essential workers,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement.

The new mRNA technology is a synthetic form of a natural chemical messenger being used to instruct cells to make proteins that mirror part of the novel coronavirus. That teaches the immune system to recognise and attack the actual virus.

The CDC study comes weeks after real-world data from Israel suggested that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was 94 per cent effective in preventing asymptomatic infections.

Some countries, including Britain and Canada, are allowing extended gaps between doses that differ from how the vaccines were tested in clinical trials in order to alleviate supply constraints. In the trials, there was a three-week gap between Pfizer shots and four weeks for the Moderna vaccine.

In Britain, authorities said in January that data supported its decision to move to 12 weeks between the first and second Pfizer/BioNtech shots. Pfizer and its German partner have warned that they had no evidence to prove that.



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Victoria records a week with no COVID cases as deputy chief health officer gets the Pfizer vaccine


Victoria has gone a week without recording a locally acquired coronavirus case.

The Health Department on Friday confirmed the state’s week-long run of “doughnut days”.

Some 19,846 people were tested in the 24 hours to Friday morning, bringing the total number of tests processed during the week to almost 80,000.

Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng says the testing numbers are likely linked to a common virus – respiratory syncytial virus – doing the rounds among school students.

“Normally kids may not get tested for every sniffle but with all the school policies and everyone’s obviously worried about COVID, a lot of kids are getting tested,” he told 3AW radio.

Professor Cheng was vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine on Friday morning at Alfred Health, where he holds the position of director of Infection Prevention and Healthcare Epidemiology.

He said it was “easy and pretty painless”.

“Last year I was in quarantine having had an exposure on the ward with quite a few of my colleagues, I hope that’s not going to happen again and hopefully, I won’t actually see patients again with COVID,” Professor Cheng told reporters.

Some 2262 shots were administered to frontline health workers and hotel quarantine staff in Victoria on Thursday.

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