Rushing vaccine rollout is ‘dangerous’: PM
Australia won't approve a COVID-19 vaccine "willy-nilly" or cut corners, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said as he defends the rollout in Australia while the immunisation program begins overseas.
Mr Morrison condemned calls to speed up the vaccine rollout across Australia as "very dangerous".
He also said there was no need to recall the National Cabinet to discuss new quarantine measures in the wake of the mutant UK strain of the virus, as medical advice from the experts had not changed.
The UK, US and some other countries have given emergency approval for some vaccines, including the Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca doses.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese and Labor's health spokesman Chris Bowen have stepped up their calls for Australia's vaccine rollout to be sped up, but without the Therapeutic Goods Administration responsible for approvals to cutting corners.
Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said a March rollout of the first vaccine in Australia was likely, with final approvals expected later this month, but then a further two weeks of testing is required when the doses actually arrive.
Mr Morrison said the rollout in the UK was on an emergency basis and they were not testing the vaccine before it was disseminated to the public.
"They're in the very early phases of that and they've had quite a few problems," he told 3AW.
"The suggestions that I've heard about trying to rush this process, I think can be very dangerous.
"Australia is not an emergency situation like the United Kingdom is so we don't have to cut corners, we don't have to take unnecessary risks.
"We're learning a lot from some of the issues that are presenting themselves and the confusion that is there in particular about doses and distribution and administering of the vaccine."
He said there should be no attempt to rush the process in Australia.
"We should let the help officials do their jobs here and do it as swiftly, as I know they are doing, and as safely as Australians would expect them," Mr Morrison said.
"I don't think Australians want us just willy nilly sending out vials."
Mr Albanese yesterday criticised the Morrison Government's approach, saying Australia was not front of the queue for vaccines.
"Labor supports the independence of the TGA. No-one is calling for a shortcutting of that process," he said.
"What we are saying, though, is that if you have confidence in the TGA processes, once it's approved it should be rolled out."
Mr Morrison said advice from the medical expert panel, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, had not changed regarding the mutant strain of COVID-19 from the UK.
He said the AHPPC were meeting every day and he spoke with the Chief Medical Officer about it earlier today.
"They are not recommending any actions at this point that the national cabinet would have to action," he said.
"The minute they are in that position that I would have no hesitation and probably wouldn't even require a national cabinet meeting to action that, that advice."
Originally published as Rushing vaccine rollout 'dangerous': PM