The Hon. Greg Hunt MP
Minister for Health and Aged Care
8 August 2021
Topics: COVID-19 update; Mental health support for NSW and VIC, New COVID-19 treatment.
Good morning, I’m joined by the Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly and Dr. Steph Davis, who’s joining as a new Deputy Chief Medical Officer along with Dr. Sonya Bennett.
Steph is a GP, a public health expert, an epidemiologist. And so we’re very fortunate to have her, with a particular focus on mental health. And Dr Sonya Bennett, we’re very grateful to Queensland for releasing her, the Deputy Chief Health Officer there, and she will help coordinate national contact tracing efforts.
Let me start today with a little bit on the vaccination rollout as part of the weekly update. And then I particularly want to address new initiatives in terms of mental health and in terms of treatments and Paul will provide more information on treatments, and Steph on mental health.
So in the last week, we have now had almost 1.3 million vaccinations. And to think back six, seven weeks, that’s a near doubling in the number of weekly vaccinations. And I want to thank Australians for stepping forward in record numbers.
To the best of our knowledge, there’s never been any week at any point in Australian history with these sorts of vaccination numbers, including during the height of the flu seasons in previous years. But very significantly, we’re seeing over 200,000 people a day on weekdays, all five days during the weekdays in the last seven days, where over 200,000 Australians being vaccinated.
So that’s a very large number of people coming forward, but it also demonstrates two critical things. And I think hope is a very important message today. It’s the reality in a difficult world where we saw over 870,000 cases just over 24 hours ago around the world. There are genuine signs of hope, even though there are difficult moments.
And so the two things that come out of this, firstly, Australians are stepping forward to be vaccinated in record numbers, and we see that the hesitancy is down and our intention to vaccinate is up. Our latest reporting to the Federal Government on a monthly tracking is an intention to vaccinate 77 per cent with approximately 13 per cent who are considering.
And we would say to every single one of those people, please take the decision to be vaccinated. It can save your life. It can save the life of your mum or your dad. It can save the life of anybody else in the community, and it will help the whole nation. So each one of us can help save a life or each one of us can inadvertently risk a life.
The other thing that we see is that the last week demonstrates the capacity of the system to deliver over two million vaccines a week through the October, November, December period. That’s now, I think, absolutely demonstrated.
The GP network on Thursday, for example, delivered 149,000 vaccines, and that’s with AstraZeneca across the network. Pfizer is still with approximately a third of the GPs. And as those numbers of vaccines coming in double from a million a week currently to over two million a week of Pfizer in October and November, Moderna comes on stream. And we’ve had very promising news from the TGA that that’s likely to be approved within the next two weeks.
Then the system is ready, and the public is ready. So I think that’s the very important part. The other critical thing is, of course, we’re now at 81 per cent of our over 70s, but we’ve just passed 75 per cent of every Australian over 60 that has had a first vaccination. And that’s important protection, and it’s a sign of the intention of Australians to be vaccinated.
So having said that, I also want to mention two initiatives and announcements today. One is that the Commonwealth will be investing $17.7 million in additional mental health measures. The lockdowns can be difficult and gruelling. They can be lonely for individuals. They can feel isolated. And so mental health support is absolutely critical.
In Victoria, we’ll be extending the current Head to Health clinics, and they will be extended to 30 June 2022. That’s just over $7.5 million. In New South Wales, we’ll now be replicating that network, and we’ll be putting in $10.5 million. And that will be used to create 10 Head to Health clinics, seven in the Sydney region, with particular focus on west and south-west Sydney, and then three throughout the rest of the state.
And these are important resources, both face-to-face or telephone. And if you are not feeling okay, that’s okay. It’s normal. Please pick up the phone, whether it’s the Head to Health program. It’s HeadtoHelp in Victoria, it’s Head to Health around the country. Whether it is Beyond Blue or Lifeline. All of these supports are there for you.
The other thing and I’ll let Paul speak at more length about this is the Commonwealth has followed medical advice of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Group and will be acquiring national stocks of sotrovimab.
It’s a monoclonal antibody. Effectively, it mimics the immune system. It is relevant for a section of the population who is diagnosed positive in mild to moderate symptomatic phase, and it can help prevent hospitalisation. Paul will give more details. It’s not a silver bullet, but it can absolutely save lives and protect lives for those for whom it’s considered to be likely effective.
And so another important step and I want to thank Australians, and obviously, our thoughts are with all the Australians, all the Australians, who are going through difficult times at the moment. Promising signs in Queensland, hope in Victoria, progress, progress in New South Wales.
They are containing, but we know there are challenges, and there’s a shared commitment between the Commonwealth and New South Wales to doing everything we can to support New South Wales, to help them win this battle.
Lastly, I just, at the end of two weeks of Olympics, want to thank our incredible Olympians. Whether it’s in the pool, the athletics track, whether it’s on the water in so many different sports, on the fields, they’ve given Australians hope, and they’ve shown that the ups and downs and journeys that they’ve all been through say that resilience is important.
And we are a resilient nation, and we’ll continue to do this, and we’ll continue to fight. And ultimately, our belief is that we have not just got through this in a way that very few other countries have, but we will continue to do that. Paul?
Thank you, Minister. So firstly, on the epi, of course, the states and territories are still to give their press conferences today. But as the Minister said and we have in summary, we have outbreaks in three jurisdictions. We’ve had those for some time.
Queensland, very hopeful. Great to see that the southeast Queensland lockdown is being lifted as planned. Shows excellent progress, including against this Delta virus. We know that we can do the things we’ve been doing since the beginning in terms of controlling this coronavirus, including the Delta variant.
We’ll wait to see what happens in north Queensland in terms of Cairns over the coming days. In Melbourne as well, continuing to chase down those new outbreaks or those new seeding events of this Delta variant in the west of Melbourne. Small numbers of cases today, crucially, all linked cases. So, again, very good news.
In New South Wales, they’ll be reporting shortly about what’s happened over the last 24 hours. But a lot of testing, a lot of tracing, very rapidly getting to people and getting them to isolate. I think the key element there is to continue doing what we know works, just to always look, as I know my esteemed colleague Dr Kerry Chant does every day. And we talk at least once a day about these matters to see what other things we can be doing to assist that.
We’ve sent the ADF resources, we’ve given extra vaccine resources. But those ideas about how we can make things quicker and faster and all of those things in terms of finding people that are positive, these are the crucial pieces.
Crucially, also, we’re all in this together. We’ve said that many times before. This requires not only the New South Wales Government and us in support, but the communities of New South Wales, wherever they are, for people to take on those messages and to do the right thing. We need that to be happening each and every day.
In terms of the announcement today of sotrovimab, this is a monoclonal antibody. If you like, it’s a passive immunity. It’s one of many treatments that are being looked at around the world, hundreds and hundreds of different types of treatments in clinical trials that are now starting to be shown to be effective.
So sotrovimab will not be the last of these sorts of announcements. We, as we did last year, we are constantly looking at what is happening in those new developments. We did that with vaccines. We bought the vaccines prior to or had those purchase agreements with companies before the TGA approval. This is the same sort of thing.
So this will not be used as a treatment until TGA approves it. They’ll be giving us the guidance about how it will be used. I’m starting a process this week with clinical colleagues to look at clinical guidelines, similar to what we’ve done with the ATAGI process in relation to vaccines, and so we’ll be having the first of those meetings tomorrow.
This medicine is not for everybody. It is an antibody. It will be mostly aimed at people that are not vaccinated. It will be mostly for people who are at highest risk of severe disease. And it needs to be given early in the treatment course. So it will be very useful in certain circumstances, but it’s not for everyone.
The other type of treatments that are being developed at the moment and we have remdesivir in our National Medical Stockpile as an example of this, are treatments that specifically target the virus itself.
So the real game changer for this will be when we have a normal pill like we do for influenza, Oseltamivir and we have courses we can give to people early in the illness or even indeed to prevent illness. That pill does not exist at the moment in the world. But of course, as soon as those things are being developed and shown to be useful, we will be making the best we can do to get that available in Australia.
But for the moment we have these antibodies. It’s a great announcement. We’ll be able to work forward on clinical guidance.
Great, Dr Steph Davis.
Thank you very much, Minister. Look, just on top of what the Minister’s announced around the funding for head to health, I just wanted to stress again, following what he was saying that as a GP, that we are seeing so much more mental health in the community, so many more issues of mental health and we all know that lockdown is really hard.
It’s really hard being socially isolated from friends, it’s really hard trying to do home school and work at the same time. I think we recognise that. And I really want to use this opportunity to reach out to all of our community and say, if you’re suffering, you don’t need to suffer alone. There is help available and you should be reaching out to try and get that.
There is absolutely no shame, and once again, lockdown is really hard on all of us. That’s why you should be reaching out to get help. There are multiple channels where you can reach out to help. There’s Lifeline, there’s Beyond Blue, so beyondblue.org.au, there’s Kids Helpline. All of these have received additional funding, additional support to be able to provide that support to our community.
And then, of course, there’s your GP. Your GP who knows you, who knows your health, and who are experts in mental health. Reach out to your GP via telehealth, there is funding for telehealth, you can get that access and talk about that with them.
You can also reach out to friends and family, if you’re having trouble navigating the system to get them to help you do that. I know that we’re all physically isolated, but we can still reach out via telephone, via Zoom, all those other things we’ve become so good at using over the past 18 months.
And finally, I suppose I’d also like to say, remember, reach out to those of your friends and family who are in lockdown areas. It’s really important and I’m certainly reaching out to my friends and family in Sydney who are suffering a great deal. And I hope that they are all doing okay.
Thank you. I’ll start on my right.
Minister Hunt, two questions if possible related to Pfizer. You mentioned this morning that Australia did not have the option of ordering more Pfizer last year.
Are you able to elaborate on that? Is that because Pfizer was prioritising more immediate countries? Was it because Pfizer wasn’t over-promising what it could deliver? Can you just tell us why you were only able to order that initial 10 million doses last year?
Sure. That’s not new. That’s what we’ve said throughout, that is the evidence of Pfizer to the Senate committee. That is the evidence of the Department to the Senate Committee and that’s what’s available.
But could you elaborate on why?
Look. Obviously, those countries that were producing, were prioritising for themselves. But also we were seeing mass death in Europe and America. And we were fortunate to receive our share, but we recognised from the outset, and I’ve said this on many occasions, that the global supply chain was both limited and nor did we consider it to be fully reliable.
And I think that was born out when we saw that the AstraZeneca doses were blocked by the European Commission. Fortunately, we made the decision in August of last year, when we saw those global trends to establish sovereign domestic manufacturing.
And so Pfizer has been an utterly reliable supplier partner and indeed, they’ve beaten what they had pledged to us. We were able to bring forward the three million doses from the fourth quarter to the third quarter. That was something we worked on with Pfizer for months.
And then we were able to implement it with the joint letter from myself to the Prime Minister in May. It wasn’t announced until later because they didn’t want us to announce it, but we prepared with it and you would have seen that in the Horizons Document.
So what’s actually happening now? We’re delivering more in July and August than we had planned to. So we’re going to see that 1.3 million last week approximately. There is evidence of that. We’ve been expecting to be delivering about a million all up at this point in time. So that’s good. That did have an impact earlier though.
And with the changing advice on the access to AstraZeneca, which I support, by the way, and always have. What that meant, though, is that the pool of people who could access (INAUDIBLE) but right now, we’re delivering more than we were planning to be delivering in July and August.
Just a couple of things. You talked about a few aged-care workers this morning, you said 56.7 per cent. Is that fully vaccinated or partially? And what’s your target for full vaccination there?
And on another one, on Moderna, can you give us some, so TGA approval within the next fortnight? And then about the arrival of that?
Sure. So it’s about 256,000 in aged-care, about $156,000. First dose, about 100,000. Second dose, I think that’s about 56.7 per cent all up that have had at least one dose.
There’s a plan for every facility. They’re required to have a plan, but they also all do have a plan. I met yesterday with Lieutenant General Frewen, we were working through this as one of our agenda items. And every facility has a plan to complete that vaccination program over the course of the next six weeks.
The in terms of Moderna, the best advice and Paul may be better placed than me. The best advice is that we’re likely to receive approval from the TGA, but it is in their hands within the next two weeks. And that we would receive a million doses during the course of September, and then three million in each of October, November and December. We don’t have specific consignment dates that have been provided by the company yet.
Nothing really more to add there. The TGA process, as always, is going through that very meticulous checking of all of the information. They’ve been doing this for some months. And as soon as Moderna has given the information, it’s been immediately actioned.
I know that it’s going through that committee process of a committee of experts process that the TGA has in all of these types of matters. But we know that Moderna has been approved around the world in many different countries, and it essentially is an mRNA vaccine, very similar in its effectiveness and other elements of it with the Pfizer. So it’s just a matter of time going through those processes.
Two questions if I may. To Dr Kelly, Annastacia Palaszczuk has requested that the Commonwealth issue a hotspot declaration for Cairns now that it has a case of COVID-19 Delta. And is that something that you’ve received? Have you received this request and will you consider it?
And to Minister Hunt, separately, there have been more exemptions granted for Australians to leave our shores than to return. Are you attempting to address this issue through your latest declaration to make it harder for Australians to leave our shores now?
Very simply and I’ll let Paul deal with the hotspot question.
Very simply, it’s about making sure that we have the capacity to bring Australians home. Any Australian can still apply. That remains exactly the situation. It just means that there were a small number who were using the revolving door policy and the very strong view from some of the State Premiers was that they wanted to make sure that that wasn’t the case. It was reasonable, legitimate, that anybody can still apply, and our goal is to make sure that we can have as many Australians come home as early as possible.
So, the Commonwealth hotspot process has been agreed at National Cabinet. It’s for me to look at the epidemiology and other matters in relation to outbreaks. I’m getting fairly experienced at that at the moment, there’s been quite a few over the last few months as we know.
I just found out about Cairns on the way to this press conference, so I’ll be following that up with Dr Jeannette Young, and to find out what the situation is there. In general terms, once a lockdown has been called, we go through that process. I do talk to my colleague in the state and we work through that.
For example, yesterday, Armadale was locked down but our assessment of the Commonwealth is that there was only two cases in a single household and very few exposure sites. Very different to what’s happening in other parts of the country. So we’ll be going through that process today.
Professor Kelly, you recently spoke about the need for New South Wales to have a circuit breaker to stop the increasing number of cases that they’ve seen. What did you mean by that comment? And do you think there is the need for further restrictions to act as that circuit breaker?
And if I could turn to Minister Hunt, we’ve seen some reports that Australia has attempted to secure Pfizer vaccines from the United States, from some of its supplies that they have on reserve. Is that an action that the Australian Government has taken and looked into?
Look, I’ll speak first. You can understand that we don’t pre-empt any of our discussions internationally. We do work right across the world in looking at any and all opportunities.
The United States has very generously released the 900,000 AstraZeneca, which we are providing to the Pacific and other countries. And that’s a matter for the Foreign Affairs Minister to set out in terms of where they’re going.
But in terms of Pfizer, I mentioned before the three million. What we saw, we could see that the United States may be in a position of surplus. By them releasing some of those doses into the international Pfizer pipeline, that allowed Pfizer to provide Australia with the three million.
So whilst it may not have come directly from, we’re very grateful that it allowed Pfizer to provide those three million to us. So those actions of the United States directly benefitted Australia, even if the doses didn’t come from there.
As Pfizer said to us when we were pushing, pushing, pushing, pushing every day, they said, we think there might be an opportunity to work with us and work with global Pfizer. And that’s exactly what we did and that’s what allowed those extra three million doses to come to us from the fourth quarter being brought forward to the third.
Yeah. Just on circuit breakers. Yes, I mentioned that at the press conference on Friday. Look. There’s no magic bullet here. It is, as I said earlier, it’s a combination of doing as much as we can and all of those things that we know that works and continuing to do that.
And that’s a combination of the extra vaccinations, sites of vaccination, different ways of getting vaccination, that’s happening, looking at different ways of testing, that’s also happening. We’ve talked about rapid antigen tests in workplaces and so forth in the last few days. That’s an important component.
Looking at different ways that we can work on the contact tracing, getting other states to assist and indeed the Commonwealth to assist in that endeavour. Looking at any possible way we can reach out to the community and to make sure that they are getting that right message.
And it’s difficult, especially in South Western Sydney, there are so many different communities with different messages, require different ways of getting that message to the community. Compliance and so forth may or may not be part of that. That’s really a matter as we’ve said many times, that public health response is a matter for the states, we are here to support. And we’re giving that support every day, and we’ll continue to do that.
Minister, on Moderna, just more questions on that. Have you spoken to Moderna to see if you can bring forward any of that Moderna supply? I assume that you have. And so I’m also interested in why it’s not possible to bring it forward. We’ve seen that done with some amount of time as you pointed out.
The other thing I’m not clear on is where are the Moderna doses coming from? From Europe or from the United States? Does Moderna even have its subsidiary set up yet in Australia? It said it was going to do that. Who are you dealing with, with Moderna? And what are the prospects of getting some of that supply sooner?
Sure. Whilst not speaking about specifics, we work with all our suppliers on a continuous basis to try to bring forward. And there’s immense global demand. And we understand that, immense global demand.
And so I’ll put it this way, we are working continuously with all our suppliers. And Moderna’s set to, on all the advice I have and all our dealings with them to bring their first doses into Australia in September. And that guidance, to be completely fair, has been utterly consistent throughout.
And where are they coming from? Do we know? And who are we dealing with?
I’ll leave it, we don’t identify the particular sources, just under a commercial arrangement. So it’s a matter for the company to do that. We work with the company. We work with their representatives in Australia. We work on a continuous basis.
So is the United States restriction on exports, hurting us because we couldn’t get than the sooner, is the US government policy part of that problem?
No, to be frank, I don’t believe that to be the case.
Right from the outset, they gave us guidance as to when they could supply to Australia and in the volumes. And I do think it is important to put the context in, whether it was with Pfizer or Moderna, we recognise what the global circumstances were.
These are the same challenges that New Zealand has faced and New Zealand done magnificently, but they had the same challenges and are in very similar positions with their international suppliers. The difference is we’ve got the domestic AstraZeneca supplies.
So they’ve been great to deal, they’ve been utterly reliable. We work with many countries and we work with all our contracting partners to try to bring forward wherever we can.
On the new Deputy CMOs, will they be replacing of the existing ones? And you mentioned one of them would have a responsibility for national contact tracing. Have we had Deputy CMOs looking after that specifically before, or is this like a design that national (INAUDIBLE)?
Over to Paul.
It’s wonderful to have Steph with me and she may want to talk to this is doing a lot of work with the Doherty modelling, all those plans and moving forward. And that’s the real hope for Australia, is that that way as vaccination rolls through.
Sonya is a real catch from a very experienced Deputy Chief Health Officer up in Queensland. She has great experience with on the ground contact tracing and that really practical elements of all public health. And so whilst the Minister’s mentioned one specific task, there’ll be others she’ll take on.
It’s just now’s the time for really strong national leadership on some of these things, national consistency on some of these things. And I think we need to work very closely together. And that’s great to have assistance to do that. Steph, do you want to talk about it.
Yeah. And maybe in particular your work with the Doherty model.
Yeah, thanks. Yeah, look, I think one of the things that we’re all aware of that came out of the Doherty modelling was that even if relatively high vaccination rates, of those 70 and 80 per cent rates, we’re still going to need contact tracing and testing as well.
All of that stuff will be going for a while to make sure that we can keep the virus at manageable levels. So as part of that obviously what we need to look at is how are we going to resource it and what are the best systems in place to do that and that’s certainly something I will be looking at.
Now I’ll try to move through the main ones quickly.
Minister, on the COVID-19 treatment, so is this just a signal to Australians as the doctor was saying that Australians are going to have to accept that there’s going to always be about 10 per cent or more who will be unvaccinated and therefore, risk of severe disease. And that’s always going to be with us?
And just to Professor Kelly, could you explain the difference between this COVID-19 treatment and hydroxychloroquine and then ivermectin, which have been the most talked about COVID-19 treatments?
So, more generally, we’re covering every possible way of protecting Australians. If the medical advice says that something is a worthwhile pursuit, then we embrace it. And we work behind the scenes.
And in terms of many of these other discussions about bring forwards or else, we just work quietly behind the scenes because talking to the public could often mean that we may not be able to get the agreement. And this is an example we’ve been able to work on, sotrovimab, and to secure those supplies for Australia. But in terms of the comparative effectiveness, Paul?
So in terms of sotrovimab, this is a very specific antibody, aimed specifically at the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. So this is the first of these type that are exactly and specifically for that to prevent that illness.
The other medicines you mentioned, hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, there have been lots of clinical trials around the world on that. There are some that are continuing. But bottom line is they don’t work. The hope was early on that they would in fact boost the immune system like this does very specifically. But really there’s no evidence that that’s the case.
Thanks, Minister. You flagged this morning on Insiders that for all children aged 12 and over that the vaccine, Pfizer and Moderna, are likely to be approved for use around about the fourth quarter of this year.
Have you given any consideration to whether there’d be any carrots or sticks attached to children being vaccinated, such as Medicare rebates, or whether that would be allowed to go to school or child care?
And Professor Kelly, would you have any thoughts around that as well as a medical expert?
Sure. So briefly, our focus is to make sure that it’s available to everybody 12 to 15 in that final quarter in states and territories and working with Lieutenant General Frewen on both general access but also school based access. We haven’t been proposing any measures that would change the ordinary voluntary basis of it.
And in terms of incentives, I think the very best incentive is to protect oneself, protect one’s family, and help protect the community. Or as the Minister mentioned earlier, our latest advice on that in terms of our surveys we do with the Australian community is that they want to get vaccinated as soon as they can. I’m sure they’ll be wanting to protect their children when we know that that’s safe and effective to do so.
New South Wales has just reported 262 cases of community transmission. At least 15 have been infectious in the community during their infectious period. And there’s been another death of a woman in her 80s.
Can we please get your initial response to the figures out of New South Wales? And you mentioned that New South Wales is containing as far as they’re working towards that. But is this really any indication? I mean, 262 cases. It’s not getting any better over the past week.
So just in terms of New South Wales firstly, any life lost is tragic. And we do know that on the latest advice that Paul and the National Incident Centre provided to me only yesterday, no fully vaccinated person has lost their lives during the course of this pandemic in Australia.
And what that message says in particular on focussing on children with parents over 70 or 80, particularly if they’re amongst that small number in aged care that have not chosen to be vaccinated, it can save mum’s life or dad’s life. It can save their lives. Please consider giving that consent.
And the reason I’m so passionate about this is we don’t want mum or dad to die in agony. We don’t want them to die alone. If your parents are in the late stage of their lives and you’re thinking they have an advanced care plan, which means effectively a plan not to treat or resuscitate, please reconsider with the vaccination, because this disease can cause people not just to die, but to die in agony and to die alone. And so to everybody, please encourage your family members and please support them to be vaccinated.
And then in terms of New South Wales, obviously those number are fresh, and Paul will review them. They’re containing. They’re fighting, and we are going to fight as a country to do this. Do I believe that they can that they can succeed? Do I believe that we can win? Yes, I do.
So, 262 is less then that’s been the last couple of days, which is a positive sign because a trend in just a day. So we need to look, it’s certainly a large number and we need to continue to work with New South Wales, as I said before, to make sure that everything we can do to assist is happening and that we give that assistance.
I think some positive elements there is that it is still mostly contained in a fairly small part of Sydney, that those eight LGAs of concern. I understand today that the numbers are increasing in Canterbury-Bankstown, but that’s next to the original epicentre in Fairfield.
So they are really concentrating. I know New South Wales are concentrating on those areas and that’s the reason. That’s where the epidemiology and the evidence shows they need to do that work.
There has been some spread in the Penrith, Nepean Valley area is not a concern to you at this stage. Could that become the next LGA that goes into a harder lockdown?
Well, I think there’s a lockdown right throughout Sydney, right up as far north as Muswellbrook and Singleton in the Hunter Valley and now in Armidale. So they’re getting on to things quickly and they’re working through those processes.
And I know I think it was 95,000 tests again yesterday. So huge testing and real shout out to everyone that’s coming out when asked to do so, we’ll get on top of this. There is hope.
Professor Kelly, do you think there’s any merit or possibility in almost door to door vaccinations in some of these particularly hard hit areas or at least a more mobile version where you take the vaccine into those hesitant communities and bring it to them rather than have them come to a GP or a clinic?
And also, Minister Hunt, 18 months into this pandemic and there’s still not a national agreement on how to deal with boarding students, particularly from remote schools. You’ve got kids in rural New South Wales who are subjected to isolation on almost both sides of the border. They’ve had two years of interrupted school. Will you work with the other health ministers at a state level to have universal rules for how these kids can come to and from boarding school?
Okay. And Professor Kelly?
But then on the mobile vaccine as well?
Yeah, but I say yes as well. Thanks, Claire. I think that would be part of what I was referring to as a circuit breaker. Let’s look at different ways of doing exactly that.
We know vaccination, whilst it’s not going to stop the outbreak, it will certainly help. And as time goes on, that transmission potential will decrease every day, every time a single person gets vaccinated. So we need to look at ways that we can make that as accessible as possible, particularly in those areas.
So do we theoretically have the capacity? Like, because obviously Pfizer needs to be stored at certain temperatures still. Is that no longer an issue? We can in-reach like that?
Well, I’m not going into the specifics of door to door. I think that would be a bit of a stretch.
But I think we would, and we’re already doing this. The pharmacies that have been brought on in the last few weeks with AstraZeneca in that area, the Pfizer rollout being specifically into those areas of concern in Sydney through the general practices, the extra doses that were forward given to New South Wales, they’ve been targeting that place as well.
So there is supply there. There are different ways of getting the vaccine out. And we need to make that access as easy as possible for people, both for testing and for vaccination.
I’ll just finish there. But I want to finish where I started, and say thank you to the almost 1.3 million Australians who came forward to be vaccinated in the last week.
But for everybody across Australia, each individual has a unique gift. Their actions, your actions, our actions can help save a life or inadvertently risk it. If it’s staying at home, if it’s being tested, if it’s coming forward to be vaccinated.
Each of these are actions that can help protect you, your family and your community. We’ve been an amazing country these last 18 months, and there are ups and downs and there are difficult moments. But we are an amazing country and we’ll continue to get through it. Take care.