Sydneysiders will have their second dose of Pfizer delayed to six weeks in a bid to partially vaccinate more people during the city’s growing Covid-19 outbreak, Scott Morrison has announced.
The Prime Minister said he was in discussions with medical experts and would confirm the updated schedule for Sydney’s vaccine hubs over ‘the next 24 hours’.
The second dose of the Pfizer vaccine can be given anywhere between three and six weeks after the first, according to the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation.
Until now doses of the scarce jab have been given after three weeks, but this will be pushed out in Sydney to spread the vaccines across more people earlier.
Mr Morrison told locked down Sydney residents ‘we will push though’ and quoted radio DJ Kyle Sandilands who released a version of the song Ice Ice Baby with the lyrics changed to ‘get vaxxed baby’.
‘As Kyle Sandilands said ”get vaccinated, baby”,’ the Prime Minister told reporters during a press conference in Canberra on Friday afternoon.
Sydney residents exercise in groups of two at Bondi Beach on Friday as lockdown continues
Mr Morrison confirmed Australia’s suppression strategy to reduce community cases to zero would continue, meaning a prolonged lockdown of Australia’s biggest city is still on the cards.
‘There are no easy solutions here. There are no silver bullets. Just as there were not last year,’ he said.
‘This thing only gets beaten by suppressing it.’
Mr Morrison said the lockdown was working to prevent thousands of cases as happened in Melbourne during winter last year.
‘In Victoria, when they went through the lockdown, they saw cases rise and rise and rise for many, many weeks while they were in lockdown,’ he said.
‘I would reassure people that what you are doing now is saving lives, it is working to bring this under control.’
Amid fears that Sydney could be shut down for months, Premier Gladys Berejiklian earlier called for a huge shake up of the vaccine rollout to help get the city out of lockdown.
She wanted to make under 40s eligible for Pfizer in Covid-ravaged areas; to delay second doses of Pfizer to six weeks to get more first doses out; and to have supplies for states with no cases re-assigned to NSW.
Sydneysiders will have their second dose of Pfizer delayed to six weeks. Pictured: Sydney residents at Coogee on Friday
Victoria recorded 14 new local cases, taking its cluster to 147, but Premier Daniel Andrews was hopeful lockdown could be ended on Wednesday. Pictured: Melbourne on Friday
The premier also called on the Atagi scientists to recommend the abundant AstraZeneca vaccine for over 40s.
Only her plan to delay the second doses of Pfizer was agreed at a National Cabinet meeting on Friday.
Mr Morrison said he has already brought forward 150,000 Pfizer doses to NSW but no more supply was available yet.
‘More doses will be provided New South Wales as they are available,’ he said.
‘We will work with them on that.’
Earlier NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said delaying second doses would mean appointments are cancelled.
‘Some of those changes will impact on individuals. It may be that we need to cancel your bookings.
‘But we have to make these hard choices if we are going to see these [infection] numbers stabilise first and then decline,’ she said.
Explaining the rationale for the move, Ms Berejiklian said: ‘We would prefer to have more people have at least one dose of Pfizer and hold back the second, rather than have more people without any vaccine whatsoever.’
NSW recorded 136 new cases with 77 people infectious in the community and 59 mystery cases on Friday, taking its outbreak to 1,782 cases.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison (pictured on Friday) told locked down Sydney residents ‘we will push though’
Melbourne residents line up at a Covid testing site in Prahran after a positive case attended the market
Premier Berejilikan said there was slim chance the city would be released from its five-week lockdown on July 30.
Victoria recorded 14 new local cases, taking its cluster to 147, but Premier Daniel Andrews was hopeful lockdown could be ended on Wednesday.
He called for a ‘ring of steel’ to be placed around Sydney to prevent residents escaping and infecting the country, saying the city was ‘on fire’ with Covid-19.
Mr Morrison said the city’s movement restrictions were discussed at National Cabinet but only Ms Berejiklian – not other premiers – decides NSW policy.
‘The only view that matters on this is the view of the NSW Premier, because they are responsible for how they manage the lockdown in NSW,’ he said.
‘It was a good opportunity, I think, for the NSW Premier to spell out in very specific detail the extensive lockdown that is in place in NSW.
‘There is nothing light about the lockdown in Sydney, I can assure you. My family are in it,’ he added.
According to government data released on June 28, about two in 100,000 people will get a blood clot from the AstraZeneca jab and only three per cent of those affected will die, a mortality rate of 0.6 in a million. Meanwhile, the Covid-19 mortality rate in Australia is 3.9 per cent, or 39,000 in a million
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said the state had passed on an offer for Australian Defence Force assistance made on July 7 because Covid-19 transmission was happening in households not in the streets where it could be stopped.
‘It was determined the police operational response didn’t require external assistance in the south western Sydney operation given the transmission of the virus was between household contacts, not primarily occurring on the streets,’ a police statement read.
South Australia – which is also in lockdown until Wednesday – recorded one new local case, taking its cluster to 15.
Queensland recorded one new local case, a flight attendant in her 30s who had been infectious since July 11 during which time she had taken six regional flights and visited Dreamworld theme park on July 16.
A record 196,430 vaccines had been administered on Thursday, taking the percentage of fully jabbed over 16s to 15.44 per cent.
Premier Andrews (pictured on Friday) said there is a ‘national responsibility that Sydneysiders are locked into Sydney’
Earlier on Friday Vaccine rollout boss Lieutenant General John Frewen said other states would have to agree to give up their doses to NSW.
Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles said his state had such ‘meagre’ supplies of Pfizer that it couldn’t spare any.
General Frewen also said Ms Berejiklian’s plan to hand out more Pfizer is not a complete solution.
‘Suddenly deciding to throw a particular vaccine at one geographic area does not give you an immediate solution to a problem,’ he said.
The premier urged over 40s to take the AstraZeneca vaccine and revealed she wants the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation to recommend the jab for over 40s.
How many under 40s have taken the AstraZeneca vaccine?
‘There are a lot of people in New South Wales in their 40s, 50s, and in their 60s, who don’t have any vaccine.
‘We say to everybody, please get vaccinated, if you have any concerns go to your GPs. We have more capacity for AstraZeneca,’ she said.
In April the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (Atagi) said the AstraZeneca jab was only recommended for over 50s because of a low risk of blood clots in younger people.
In June the body increased the minimum recommend age to 60, denting confidence and delaying the jab rollout by two months as the government scrambled to get more Pfizer into the country.
According to government data released on June 28, about two in 100,000 people will get a blood clot from the AstraZeneca jab and only three per cent of those affected will die, a mortality rate of 0.6 in one million.
Meanwhile, the Covid-19 mortality rate in Australia is 3.9 per cent, or 39,000 in a million.
The risk of being killed in a pedestrian accident is eight in a million and the chance of dying in a car crash is 28 in a million, about 17 times higher than the risk of dying from the AstraZeneca jab.
A total of 6.1 million AstraZeneca shots have been handed out across the nation, with only 87 cases of serious clotting – known as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) – and six deaths.
The risks of Covid and vaccines are different for each individual, depending on personal circumstances such as age, location and job, which is why politicians and health experts are asking people to speak to their GPs about taking the vaccine.
A total of 161,617 under 40s have had their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine since March 6, according to government data seen by Daily Mail Australia.
Only two of them have suffered a rare blood clotting syndrome linked to the jab and neither have died.
Government experts did modelling (above) to show the risk of getting a blood clot from the Astrazeneca vaccine for each age group, compared with the benefits of getting the jab
What are the four phases of opening up?
On July 9, Mr Morrison announced a four stage plan to get Australia back to normal, with each step to be triggered when the vaccination rate hits a certain percentage.
The vaccination percentages required are being calculated by modelling experts at The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity and will be released at the end of July.
1. Vaccinate, prepare and pilot (from July 14)
Arrival caps cut in half to 3,035 a week; lockdowns and state border closures as a last resort; trials of seven-day home quarantine for vaccinated arrivals; medicare vaccination certificates available on apps like apple wallet
2. Post vaccination phase (when an as-yet unannounced percentage of Aussies are jabbed, expected early next year)
No lockdowns or state borders except for ‘extreme circumstances’; caps for unvaccinated arrivals doubled to 6,070; home quarantine for vaccinated arrivals; capped entry for students and economic visa holders
3. Consolidation phase (date not announced)
Lifting all restrictions for outbound travel for vaccinated travellers; no caps for vaccinated arrivals; vaccinated people exempted from domestic restrictions; increased caps for students and visa holders; more travel bubbles being set up with countries such as Singapore; booster shots rolled out
4. Final phase (date not announced)
Uncapped arrivals for vaccinated people without any quarantine and uncapped arrivals for unvaccinated people with testing before departure and on arrival