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The Government's AstraZeneca about face: humble pie but no apology to Craig Kelly

By Brendan O'Reilly - posted Monday, 12 April 2021

With hindsight, we can say that Australia has made mistakes in its vaccine strategy.  Firstly, the original plan was to develop our own vaccine based on research by the University of Queensland and CSL.  This research was abandoned because, while the vaccine did generate a "robust" response, it generated antibodies that led to "false-positive" HIV test results.

Plan B came into play with, instead of a home developed vaccine, Australia was to rely mostly on the AstraZeneca vaccine, with the bulk being manufactured locally by CSL.  The AstraZeneca vaccine was to dominate Australia’s’ corona virus vaccine plan, with CSL to start pumping out up to one million doses a week.

Plan C now has now resulted in the Australian Government ordering an additional 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine.  Other competing vaccines may also be accessed, though their later availability will restrict their use.  Overall, it is now clear that Pfizer vaccinations have become far more crucial, while AstraZeneca is no longer expected to be administered to most Australians.


Authorities can't be overly blamed for historic mistakes.  This is because, when you make decisions in the face of uncertainty, there is always scope for bad luck.  In addition vaccine-related costs are minor relative to the overall costs of Covid.

I suspect that Australia may end up with a surplus of AstraZeneca doses.  I imagine that a lot of over-fifties will now also prefer to wait for the Pfizer vaccine, and that most of the AstraZeneca doses we import or produce ourselves will be provided as aid to poor countries in our region (we already are assisting PNG).

So what about Craig Kelly?  While Australian politicians are notoriously prolific in making apologies, will he get one?  I for one will not be holding my breath.

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About the Author

Brendan O’Reilly is a retired commonwealth public servant with a background in economics and accounting. He is currently pursuing private business interests.

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