Coronavirus vaccine transport contracts signed by Federal Government

Coronavirus vaccine transport contracts signed by Federal Government

The COVID-19 vaccine will be trucked around Australia in “super eskies with dry ice” but there will be no shortcuts to getting Aussies the jab, the Health Minister warns.

The federal government has signed a distribution deal with DHL and Linfox to assist the rollout of more than 117 million vaccine doses.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said “super eskies”, purpose-built dry ice containers, would be used to transport the Pfizer vaccine at -70C.

The Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA) is expected to green-light a vaccine in January, with Australians to receive their first jabs in March.

The UK and US have both issued emergency approvals for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as they face spiralling outbreaks. The US recorded 3401 coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, while 744 Britons lost their lives.

But with Australia having the virus under relative control, Mr Hunt insisted there was no need for it to follow suit.

“The public doesn’t want to see corners cut. They want to see that we are thoroughly assessing, but we’re doing it at a record speed in an utterly comprehensive way,” he told 2GB Radio on Thursday.

The two-dose vaccine would be rolled out in monthly rounds, the first focusing on the elderly, health workers and medical workers.

Subsequent rounds would work down the age groups, as young people were less likely to suffer severe impacts from the virus, with the process expected to be completed by October, Mr Hunt said.

“Here we are likely to get a higher take-up of the vaccine than in many other countries because we are a great vaccination nation. But we are because people have complete confidence in the world class leadership and quality of our medical regulator,” he said.

The comments come after Mr Hunt accused Labor leader Anthony Albanese of undermining that confidence by questioning the lag between the January approval and March rollout.

Mr Albanese said the government had left Australians facing a two-month wait to receive the injection after delaying signing a deal.

“That makes no sense at all. If it’s ready to go it should be rolled out,” Mr Albanese told 2GB on Wednesday.

“We’re not saying it shouldn’t have all of the approvals, but once (the TGA) says it’s ready to go, for goodness sake, let’s get it ready to go.”

Mr Hunt said the comments would fuel concerns over the vaccine.

“The single greatest risk to the vaccine program is any concern that the vaccines have been rushed for political reasons, yet that is exactly the deeply concerning and irresponsible path Mr Albanese has chosen,” he told The Australian.