The federal government is being urged to use Australia’s friendship with the United States to secure supplies of the Pfizer vaccine, after a total reliance on Europe for about 4.4 million doses shipped to Australia by the company so far.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to “aggressively” increase the vaccine supplies as the greater Sydney region enters its third week of lockdown, with only 10 per cent of eligible people fully inoculated with two doses nationwide.
The federal government has a contract with Pfizer for 40 million doses this year and a contract with another manufacturer of a messenger RNA vaccine, Moderna, for 10 million doses this year and 15 million doses next year.
Pfizer has confirmed to The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age that all the doses shipped to Australia so far have come from Europe. Diplomatic sources, who spoke on condition they not be named, said the amount has reached 4.4 million doses in deliveries, distinct from jabs administered.
US President Joe Biden moved in May to allow vaccine exports from Pfizer’s US manufacturing facilities to Canada and Mexico, while also announcing a humanitarian program to send Moderna vaccines to Indonesia, but his administration has imposed strict controls on exports to other countries.
“We need to aggressively increase supply, we need to talk to our friends in the United States about Pfizer and Moderna,” Mr Albanese told the ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday.
“Canada and Mexico have been able to get additional vaccines.
“We need to be moving with producing mRNA vaccines right here as well. The key is the supply of the vaccine, that’s at the heart of the problem here.”