The Hon. Greg Hunt MP
Minister for Health and Aged Care
12 July 2021
INTERVIEW WITH RAY HADLEY
Topics: COVID-19 vaccination roll out
Well, I guess one of the problems with the virus is we have all sorts of people from both a federal sphere and a state sphere telling us what we should and shouldn’t do.
Now for instance, I’m due sometime in August my second jab of AstraZeneca. I rang the Health Minister in New South Wales, Brad Hazzard, last week and said: look, would it help to point people in the right direction. I’ll go early if you want me to. He said: no, no, wait for the 12-week margin.
Then I find out from the Chief Medical Officer, Dr Chant, on Saturday that I should go at six weeks. I thought I’d get some clarity on this for people right across Australia with the Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt – he’s on the line. Minister, gidday.
So, with AstraZeneca the new advice is what? Six to eight weeks, as opposed to 12 weeks?
That’s considered appropriate in, in the case of the outbreak, outbreak in Sydney. The Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer has given similar advice to, to Kerry Chant, the Chief Health Officer in New South Wales.
So, national remains 12 weeks; in the case of the outbreak, outbreak in Sydney, because of the additional protection, if you are in that window it is appropriate and it is supported to come forward to get that second dose at an earlier time.
Okay. This Delta variant is attacking younger people – we’ve had a couple of very young ones in ICU – one under a respirator actually. So, so, what’s the message about Pfizer?
We, we had the Prime Minister on on Friday, he said: look, we’re going to get stacks of Pfizer out in a very short space of time. When can we expect those people, those younger ones, to start getting their first and second doses?
So, we’ve said the under 40’s are likely to be brought in in late September to early October. We will judge that as we go through the vaccination program. The risk is for everybody; the greatest risk is for older people.
But the strong advertisements that have been put out are saying, please stay at home. The same thing is, get tested if you have symptoms and if you are eligible, please be vaccinated.
So we have to work right through all of those three things – they’re three things that everybody can do – stay at home, get tested, and if eligible, be vaccinated at the earliest possible time.
I’ll come back to Pfizer in a moment, and the increased supply we’re getting. But there’s been some criticism, I don’t know why, of this Grim Reaper type commercial that aired last night.
I think that you’ve got to go hard. You’ve got to illustrate to people that someone, relatively young by comparison to others, can be on a respirator and all sorts of strife, unless of course, they get that vaccination.
Correct. This is a deliberate, strong message which says that, given the, the outbreak in Sydney, anybody can catch it; anybody can pass it on; and, anybody can suffer agonising consequences. And so stay at home, please be tested, and if eligible, please be vaccinated and get your second dose. And people have been fantastic.
But it is a challenging time, and so that’s why there’s support, there’s the mental health support, which we’re very focussed on through Beyond Blue; and then there’s the Disaster Relief Payment through Services Australia.
So, to Sydneysiders and to people who are affected, we know this is hard, you’re doing a fantastic job and each of you can make a difference. But we’re also supporting with that mental health support and that disaster relief payment support, which is the same as the final level for JobKeeper.
Okay. Now, we’ve got the Pfizer in increased numbers, according to the Prime Minister, after a deal has been struck between the Government and the company. But what about Moderna? And what about this Novavax? Where are we up to with those supplies? Because what we need is as many of those supplies into the country as we can.
Correct. So, we’ve got the 40 million Pfizer, and that will increase to a million a week from mid-July. I think the week of 19 July is when the first of those million doses arrives.
That’s being brought forward as the result of the sort of very active and persistent negotiations between the Australian Government and Pfizer. Moderna, we have 10 million arriving this year – the first million is expected in September, and then three million a month through October, November and December – that’s an mRNA vaccine.
And then Novavax, we’re still waiting on confirmation of, of time, but they just submitted what’s called clinical trial data, very, very good data on the outcomes and we’re expecting that the first of those doses will arrive in the latter part of the year.
Now, I know you’re Health Minister, but you may not be aware of this syndrome that I’ve revealed on the program from time to time, it’s called relevancy deprivation syndrome.
It’s usually suffered by former Prime Ministers, and the two that are most adversely affected are K Rudd and M Turnbull.
Now fortunately, Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott must have been vaccinated against it because they’re not afflicted by it. Mr Rudd is claiming all sorts of success in relation to Pfizer.
And as you know, success has many fathers, failure has none. And so all of a sudden he’s lining up to take credit for all of this. Is there any truth or semblance of truth in his claims?
Look, I did chuckle when I saw the story. We received the letter after we’d done the work with Pfizer and we knew the outcome was likely to be exactly as it was of moving to the million a week.
And that we did, as, as a group, say, well, we know that once the Government announces it that letter from the former prime minister’s likely to be put out there. But we appreciate all of the, the help, even if it hasn’t added to the outcome.
But look, this is serious work that the Australian Government’s been doing. We’ve contracted the 40 million with Pfizer, but we’ve been able to bring it forward, and, you know, that’s what, that’s what matters.
And I’ll let others speak for themselves. But that action came after the fact but we were certain that the letter would be put out there. But anyway, we’ll let others speak for themselves but I’m happy for the Australian people that we’ve been able to achieve this.
Well, it gets worse because Malcolm Turnbull this morning has put out this: thank you K Rudd for speaking to the Chairman of Pfizer to secure an earlier delivery of vaccine. Staggering the vaccination of Australians was apparently not important enough to warrant a call from either Scott Morrison or Greg Hunt.
Now, he has a seriously bad dose of relevancy deprivation syndrome, that prime minister, or that former Prime Minister.
And again, you’ve got people sniping at the edges – we’re in the middle of a pandemic in Sydney. Turnbull lives in Sydney. My advice to you, Malcolm – pull your head in, they’re looking for wood, you [beep censor]. Unbelievable.
Well, I, I won’t comment on that. I will say that on multiple occasions with the Australian Head, Anne Harris, who had done the work to secure the extra vaccines – well, the earlier vaccines for Australia – and that’s incredibly important.
And she and her team, they have been unstinting in this fight to get this outcome. And we’ve worked with them just consistently throughout. And I’m very thankful to them.
They’ve delivered everything they’ve said – they deliver in the volumes and on the timeframe they’ve said – they delivered. And, and this announcement came at the expected time at the expected volumes.
So what matters to the Australian people is more people will be vaccinated earlier.
You’re too nice. Thanks very much for your time.
Thanks a lot, Ray. Cheers.
Greg Hunt, Federal Health Minister.