According to scientists, the vaccine will not form herd immunity in Australia due to its low effectiveness. They offered to suspend vaccinations’ rollout with this drug and purchase more effective vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.
Australian scientists have asked the government to review its coronavirus vaccination strategy, the Financial Times reported. They fear that AstraZeneca’s vaccine and the University of Oxford are not effective enough to form herd immunity.
The scientists said that Australia needs to order additional vaccine supplies, which were created by the American companies Pfizer and Moderna. According to the developers, these drugs have shown an effectiveness of more than 90%, while the AstraZeneca vaccine’s average effectiveness was 70%.
“Until we get more data that shows AstraZeneca is as good as other vaccines, the scientific and medical risk you take is that you will not achieve herd immunity. The political risk is that you get a good vaccine for the rich and not so good for the poor,” said Australian Medical Association President Andrew Miller. He proposed to suspend the planned rollout of vaccinations with AstraZeneca and purchase more effective ones.
Another Australian scientist expressed the same opinion. “The formation of herd immunity is really important because it is he who will stop the spread of the virus and help us return to normal life. The problem is that we rely heavily on the AstraZeneca vaccine, and the vast majority of Australians will get it. However, the effectiveness of a vaccine [capable of creating herd immunity] must be at least 70 or 80%,” said an expert of the Society for Infectious Diseases, a researcher at the University. Monash Michelle Ananda-Raja on the air of 9news TV channel.
In response to statements by scientists, the government noted that they do not plan to change the strategy of vaccination of the population. “The AstraZeneca vaccine is effective and safe,” said Australian Chief Physician Paul Kelly. According to him, the authorities’ choice is not that “one is better than the other.” “This year [AstraZeneca vaccine] is the option available to maximize vaccine deployment to save and protect lives,” said the chief physician.
Australia has pre-orders for three coronavirus vaccines. She placed the largest one for the drug AstraZeneca – 53 million doses. Also, Canberra has agreed to supply 51 million doses of the vaccine developed by the American company Novavax and 10 million doses of Pfizer vaccine. The Australian regulator is expected to approve the use of AstraZeneca in February, Kelly said.
In addition to these drugs, the Australian authorities expected to receive their own vaccine against coronavirus, which was developed by the University of Queensland and the biotechnology company CSL. However, her trials were suspended in December after several study participants passed false-positive tests for HIV.