Sydney residents will have their second doses of Pfizer delayed to six weeks after the first to vaccinate more people, Scott Morrison has announced.
The Prime Minister said he was in discussions with medical experts and would confirm the updated schedule 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.
Sydney residents exercise in groups of two at Bondi Beach on Friday as lockdown continues
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.
The premier also called on Atagi to recommend AstraZeneca for over 40s.
It appears only her plan to delay the second doses of Pfizer has been agreed by at a National Cabinet meeting on Friday.
NSW recorded 136 new cases with 77 people infectious in the community and 59 mystery cases.
Melbourne residents line up at a Covid testing site in Prahran after a positive case attended the market
Premier Berejilikan said there was a 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, saying the city was ‘on fire’ with Covid-19.
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.
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
Premier Andrews said there is a ‘national responsibility that Sydneysiders are locked into Sydney’
Vaccine rollout boss Lieutenant General John Frewen said other states would have to agree to give up their doses to NSW.
He 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.
‘There are a lot of people in New South Wales in their 40s, 50s, and in their 60s, who don’t have any vaccine.
How many under 40s have taken the AstraZeneca 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.
Australians under 40 have been taking the AstraZeneca vaccine instead of waiting for Pfizer to get protected from Covid-19 and help end lockdowns as soon as possible.
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