'Fluid situation': global vaccine supply issues could impact Australia

The Pfizer vaccine is being developed on a
The Pfizer vaccine is being developed on a "just in time" basis, meaning no inventory is being stored. Picture: Shutterstock

Manufacturers of the two COVID-19 vaccines that form the major planks of Australia's vaccine strategy have said it is too early to say if tensions in Europe will affect import of vaccines into Australia.

Amid grave situations across Europe, where deaths are rising and vaccine production is falling behind demand, it has been reported the European Union will slap export controls on vaccines leaving manufacturing hubs within their borders.

Pfizer's Medical Director for Developed Asia Dr Krishnan Thiru, told a Senate committee on Thursday the company was awaiting further information, but they believed it was more of a "notification process in the interest of transparency" about where vaccines were going, rather than an actual export ban.

Dr Thiru said the company was still on track to deliver the first doses of the vaccine by the end of February, and fulfill its contract of 10 million doses by the end of the year.

The Pfizer vaccine was being manufactured in a "just in time" process, Dr Thiru said, meaning there is no inventory being held by the company.

The first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine which are set to be shipped to Australia may be affected by the decisions in the EU.

"It's a very fluid situation," the company's Market Access Director in Australia Alice Morgan told the committee.

"We're not able to predict how that would play out."

AstraZeneca's representatives confirmed Australia had reduced the number of doses of its vaccine it was set to import to 1.4 million doses, with the majority of the 50 million doses to be manufactured locally by CSL in Melbourne.

Australian company CSL was invited to appear at the hearing, but told the Senate committee staff were too busy preparing for the rollout to appear for the 45-minute hearing.

"I regret that CSL simply does not have the capacity to resource an appearance before the Committee during this critical time of vaccine manufacture however I would happy to discuss with you a possible appearance perhaps in mid to late April once (hopefully) we have achieved release of the vaccine to the community and the ongoing rollout is underway," a representative of the company said in a letter.

This story 'Fluid situation': global vaccine supply issues could impact Australia first appeared on The Canberra Times.