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SYDNEY, Jan 25- Australia on Monday approved the use of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, but warned that AstraZeneca’s international production problems mean the country will have to distribute a locally manufactured vaccine, ahead of schedule.
The country’s medical regulator was one of the first in the world to complete the comprehensive approval process for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday, noting that it has been a year since the first case was detected. local coronavirus.
Vaccination of priority groups with Pfizer’s vaccine is expected to begin in late February at a rate of 80,000 doses per week, Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters.
Pfizer has told the Australian government that it expects to maintain a continuous supply, but that it would provide guidance on global production “in mid-February to March and beyond, on a weekly basis,” it said.
The update on the deployment of the vaccine in Australia comes after AstraZeneca told European Union authorities on Friday that it will reduce the supply of its vaccine to the block by 60% in the first quarter due to production problems.
Hunt said AstraZeneca has advised Australia that the company has “suffered a significant supply shock, which means that we will not have as much international AstraZeneca in March as they had previously promised.”
The AstraZeneca vaccine has not yet been approved by Australia, which expects to begin national supply by CSL in March ahead of schedule with one million doses a week, he said.
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