Vaccine unlikely to be ‘absolute’ immunity
The leading COVID-19 vaccine secured by Australia is likely to provide five years protection, but it's unlikely to be "absolute" immunity, Health Minister Greg Hunt revealed.
"The vast bulk" of Australians are expected to be vaccinated by the voluntary program by the middle of next year and the program is expected to be completed during the course of 2021.
A plan on how to role out the vaccine is expected to be taken to the National Cabinet within weeks.
Mr Hunt said the latest results from the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine trial had been more positive than expected, including for older participants.
"2021 is obviously the year of COVID vaccines in Australia," he said.
"New data which has emerged has shown that the protective capabilities for older participants in the vaccine programs has been exceptionally good.
"The best advice I have … it's likely to be but we can't say definitively a multi-year defence, in the order of five years as a guidance.
"It's likely to give significant protection, but we can't say yet whether it will be absolute protection."
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected to take the plan for the rollout to National Cabinet within weeks, with health workers and the elderly to be the first to get the jab as previously outlined.
A second stage plan on rolling the vaccination program out to the general public will go to the National Cabinet in December, Mr Hunt said.
"What we want to do is give every Australian who seeks to be vaccinated, that capacity over the course of the coming 12 months," he said.
"It will be progressively rolled out throughout the course of the year.
"We would like to see everyone who seeks to be vaccinated on what will be a voluntary program completed during the course of 2021, with the middle of the year seeing the vast bulk of the population given that access."
The Sunday Mail revealed this morning that the first vaccines are expected to be rolled out in the first quarter of 2021.
Mr Hunt said the vaccination program would make it easier for Australians to travel overseas and return, but the full effect of the dose had to be seen first.
"What we'll see is progressive capacity to bring people home, progressive capacity to travel as more and more people are vaccinated," he said.
Australia has already secured two vaccine candidates, AstraZeneca's and one from the University of Queensland, and is in talks to secure a further two candidates.
Originally published as Vaccine unlikely to be 'absolute' immunity