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Millions more doses before Christmas as Moderna comes on line

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Australians could have a third coronavirus vaccine available in coming weeks with Moderna expected to join the sluggish rollout.

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The company is also considering using Australia as a trial country for children as young as six months if the medicines regulator grants approval.

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said the government ultimately wanted people of all ages included in the rollout.

“Moderna’s looking at a global trial, Australia may be part of that, but that will be subject to all of the technical and scientific advice that needs to be provided,” he told Sky News on Monday.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration is expected to approve Moderna for over-16s in coming weeks with around one million doses slated to arrive next month.

That will ramp up to three million in October, while bigger Pfizer shipments are also on the way with two million doses a week set to land from September.

While the rollout is considered one of the slowest in the developed world, Senator Birmingham said Australia was slightly above the global average.

“There will be a very strong supply coming to build on what is already a record rate of vaccination happening now,” he said.

Australia has fully vaccinated 22 per cent of people aged 16 and over.

Birmingham is confident the nation can achieve high enough vaccination coverage to ease interstate travel restrictions and reunite families at Christmas.

Infectious disease expert Nick Coatsworth, who is a former deputy chief medical officer, is urging doctors not to block younger people from receiving AstraZeneca.

“If someone comes to them saying they’re prepared to accept the risk, then for sure, they should have access to the vaccine,” he told the Nine Network.

The expert immunisation panel ATAGI strongly recommends people in outbreak areas like Sydney consider having AstraZeneca.

Pfizer is the preferred vaccine for people under 60 but supplies are short because it is manufactured overseas.

Anyone who provides informed consent can receive AstraZeneca which has links to an extremely rare blood clotting condition.

Children aged 12 to 15 who are Indigenous, have underlying health conditions or live in remote communities are now able to receive the Pfizer vaccine.

ATAGI is considering broadening the rollout to all children in that age group.

The coronavirus crisis in NSW continues with 262 new local infections reported on Sunday.

An unvaccinated woman in her 80s died taking the toll from the outbreak to 28.

Southeast Queensland’s lockdown ended on Sunday, but Cairns is now under heavy restrictions after a man spent 10 days in the community while infectious.

Victoria recorded 11 new cases with the state anxiously awaiting news on whether lockdown will end on Thursday.

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