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Third wave soars to alarming levels - halt to Aussie Astra jabs denied

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Australia’s third coronavirus wave has soared to a grim new record with more than 2700 cases reported in a single day.

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Victoria posted a massive increase on Thursday with 2297 new infections and 11 deaths while NSW reported 406 locally acquired cases and six deaths.

As cases hit a new national high, Health Minister Greg Hunt rejected reports the AstraZeneca vaccine would stop being made in Australia with production set to continue into next year.

CSL chair Brian McNamee had confirmed the company was committed to completing its contract for 50 million doses made in Melbourne, he said.

“All the spare ones, we’re sharing with the region,” the minister told the Nine Network.

He noted Fiji’s vaccine rollout was boosted by Australian AstraZeneca doses, which were also sent to Indonesia, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea and other Pacific nations.

“These 50 million AstraZeneca doses are supporting Australians but they’re also supporting the region,” Hunt said.

Australia’s medical regulator has approved the first step for the Pfizer vaccine to be given to children aged five to 11.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration on Wednesday granted a provisional determination for Pfizer in Australia.

Currently, the vaccine is only approved for those aged 12 and over.

“The granting of this determination means that Pfizer is now eligible to apply to vary the provisional approval for the vaccine to include children aged five to 11 years,” the TGA said in a statement.

“This provisional determination is the first step in the process and does not mean that an application for variation has been made by the sponsor or that any such variation will be provisionally approved by the TGA.”

Pfizer will now need to submit a comprehensive clinical date to the administration.

Hunt said approval would need a “double green light” from the TGA and the expert immunisation panel ATAGI.

“If we get that we’re ready to start immediately. We have the doses. We have the availability. We have the system,” he said.

Australia has fully vaccinated 64.4 per cent of its eligible population aged 16 and over, while more than 83 per cent have received their first dose.

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