“We’re waiting a bit longer for more comprehensive data on how well the vaccine works clinically. Which groups it works with, how long the protection might last, and more comprehensive data on safety,” he said.
Professor Skerritt’s comments came after Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he would receive a coronavirus vaccine, but public safety was paramount.
Australian scientists hope to have all the necessary information on vaccines by early February before vaccines start here, Professor Skerritt said.
“We expect the first of the vaccines to be approved by us for implementation in the first quarter of 2021,” he said.
Professor Skerritt said his team will take a closer look at the approval processes over the summer.
“We’re getting information from across the US, across the UK, and when you’re looking for data from hundreds of millions of people, you can pick up these kinds of things much more quickly and be able to give good clinical advice.”
He said there is a tremendous level of international cooperation to share information on vaccines.
“We talk to each other all the time. We look at each other’s data,” Professor Skerritt said.
“The UK did a thorough review of the data they had. They were looking at data from November and there is more data in December and we think that is important data.”
Professor Skerritt also assured Australians that the planned launch of a vaccine in Australia for next year will involve large-scale safety monitoring.
“It is important that the public is sure about the safety of vaccines … It may be, for example, that certain people, say, with diseases like multiple sclerosis, should not receive particular vaccines and that is the information that we are collecting. “