Pfizer allocations for ACT lower than expected for October

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said work was being undertaken with the Commonwealth to solve the issue. Picture: Elesa Kurtz
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said work was being undertaken with the Commonwealth to solve the issue. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

The ACT's Chief Minister was forced to raise concerns with Prime Minister Scott Morrison about thousands of Pfizer vaccines missing from the territory's allocated supply for next month.

Andrew Barr brought up the supply matter with Mr Morrison at Friday's national cabinet meeting, but he said work was under way to hopefully rectify the issue.

The ACT reported 15 new COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Friday. Of the new cases, only two were confirmed to be in quarantine for their entire infectious period.

Seven cases were linked to existing cases and the sources of the remaining eight are under investigation.

There are eight people in hospital with COVID-19 in the ACT, including a child under 12.

Mr Barr made the revelation on Saturday that the ACT was allocated about 60,000 fewer Pfizer vaccines for its October supply.

"Under the proposed Pfizer supply to be allocated to the territory for October, it appeared that the Commonwealth had reduced the territory's allocation," he said.

Mr Barr said he received assurances that it was not the Commonwealth's intention to reduce the supply and he suspected the issue could be "positively resolved".

The Chief Minister said if the supply did not come through it would affect the territory's mass vaccination clinics.

"The sort of benchmark is around 60,000, a little over half of which would have been going to GPs and slightly less thereabouts to the ACT government mass vaccination clinics," he said.

"The increase in Moderna would have offset the GP allocation [but] what we're particularly focused on is the allocation of what we were anticipating for our mass vaccination clinics."

National cabinet was also shown new modelling from the Doherty Institute on Friday afternoon, which said it would be "prudent" for medium public health measures to remain in place between the 70 per cent to 80 per cent fully vaccinated thresholds if the virus had seeded in a community.

Medium public health measures, as set out by the Doherty Institute, were described by Mr Barr as "lockdown-lite" on Saturday.

Under medium measures, relaxed stay-at-home orders could apply, which would allow people to leave for work, study and essential purposes. Schools would either be closed or there would be a graduated return.

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Others include increased retail with density limits, limited seat dining at restaurants and small numbers of household visitors allowed.

Mr Barr said the ACT would not necessarily be in a "lockdown-lite" situation until 80 per cent was reached but reaffirmed that there would not be a significant easing of restrictions at 70 per cent.

"There are a range of other subsequent and linked public health measures that are contained within that medium parameter that could be dialled up or down," he said.

"But to be clear it will not be freedom day at 70 per cent. It never was and it never will be at 70 per cent.

"It's a gradual phase out of the current restrictions."

On Friday, Mr Barr made alarming claims that if the ACT opened with 70 per cent of the population double dosed there would be thousands of cases and the health system would be overrun.

He clarified those claims on Saturday, saying this was based on low public health measures being in place and partial test, trace, isolate and quarantine (TTIQ) capability. Low measures include capacity limits on recreational activity, limits on retail group sizes and restrictions on workplace capacity.

Mr Barr said he hoped the territory would be able to have baseline measures by Christmas, when he hoped that 95 per cent of Canberrans would be fully vaccinated.

Baseline measures include no stay-at-home orders, low density requirements, no retail restrictions and schools are open.

The Doherty Institute released a statement, saying its new modelling confirmed that the vaccine was not enough to stop COVID-19 and that TTIQ capability would need to be strong.

"These findings confirm our earlier strategic advice that even high levels of vaccination will not be sufficient to stop COVID-19 in its tracks," the statement said.

Mr Barr said the small number of unvaccinated people, once a community had reopened, would all be likely to get the virus. But he also warned vaccinated people could still spread the virus.

"The thing that worries me is that there could be quite a lot of asymptomatic cases amongst fully vaccinated people," he said.

"But they will still be carrying and transmitting the virus to others and so that remains a risk."

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This story Pfizer doses missing from October supply: Barr first appeared on The Canberra Times.