NSW still doesn’t know how many Covid vaccine doses it is getting, premier says | Health

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The New South Wales government says it remains without key details of the vaccine rollout and needs “certainty” from the commonwealth to allow it to better plan distribution of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Australia’s first 300,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in Sydney on Sunday, but the NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian, said the state still had little idea how many doses it would receive and when.

“Timely information on how many doses we are receiving would really assist us in being able to get the vaccine to as many of our citizens as soon as possible,” Berejiklian said on Monday. “We’d like some certainty.”

The concerns echo those held by general practitioners, who have told the Guardian that uncertainty and a lack of information is making it hard for them to plan for their role in the next stage of the vaccine rollout program, phase 1b.

The lack of communication is only one of the “teething problems” experienced during first week of the vaccine distribution program.

The rollout was immediately complicated when a doctor working for Healthcare Australia, one of the four private contractors engaged on the vaccine program, administered four times the proper dose to two elderly patients. The error slowed down the rollout and drew a scathing response from the federal health minister, Greg Hunt.

The fallout continued on Sunday, when the Queensland health minister, Yvette D’ath, said a “show cause” notice had been issued to the company. The state government has also placed more observers in aged care facilities to monitor the rollout.

The federal government is now refusing to say how much it has paid Healthcare Australia or the other three private contractors, telling the Guardian that such information was “commercial in confidence”. That is at odds with the usual government approach of publishing contract values openly on its AusTender website.

Healthcare Australia is owned by private equity firm Crescent Capital Partners, a regular political donor that has made $208,250 in contributions to the Liberals, Labor and the Nationals since 2016-17.

Crescent Capital has previously been linked with former Labor senator Sam Dastyari, according to the Australian Financial Review, and currently lists GC Advisory – former Liberal minister Christopher Pyne’s firm – as a federal lobbyist.

The health department said it conducted a “thorough competitive procurement process to identify value-for-money options” to provide vaccine support.

“Through this process Healthcare Australia, International SOS, Sonic Clinical Services and Aspen were successful,” a spokeswoman told the Guardian. “The value of these contracts are commercial in confidence.”

Aged care facilities reported last week that they were being given very short notice before the arrival of the vaccine at their facilities. This made it hard for some providers to obtain all of the necessary informed consent they needed from residents.

Other facilities said they were told the vaccine was to arrive on a certain date, only for it not to show up.

About 3.8m doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in Sydney on Sunday. Hunt said the arrival of the AstraZeneca vaccine would allow faster distribution to priority groups.

“In one shipment we have more than doubled the total amount of vaccines that have arrived in Australia,” Hunt said at the weekend.

Australia is planning to take overseas imports of the vaccine initially, before being supplied with 50m doses through onshore manufacturing by CSL.

Hafta Ichi
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: NSW still doesn’t know how many Covid vaccine doses it is getting, premier says | Health

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