Pfizer Offered Australia Preferential Vaccine Deal in 2020

Appearing on ABC Radio earlier this month, Dr Norman Swan offered his candid thoughts on the Federal Government’s vaccine procurement efforts in mid-2020. In a bombshell revelation, Dr Swan claims Australia was offered the same preferential vaccine access that Israel has enjoyed since late 2020.

“I’ve now had three sources telling me the same story, including from the United States, of what happened with Pfizer last June,” Swan told ABC Radio Melbourne host, Rafael Epstein, earlier this month. 

“And if these three separate sources are right, what happened with Pfizer last June is that they wanted to make Australia an example to the world about how to roll it out, a bit like Israel or other places, and they said, ‘How much do you want and when do you want it?’

As we reported in January, Israel implemented a world-leading Covid-19 vaccine roll-out, with preferential vaccine access from Pfizer playing an indispensable role. Being a small country with a modern health system, Israel was offered first access to the vaccine in exchange for real-world data on safety and efficacy in a population-wide roll-out via its health system’s vaccine surveillance programs.

According to Swan, “On 10 July [2020], there was a meeting, and what I’m told happened at that meeting is that there was an inexperienced person there with procurement. They were pretty rude, and they said, ‘Oh, well, you’re going to have to give us all your IP,’  which is an amazing thing to have said, and then started nickel-and-diming on the cost.

“Essentially, the conversation stopped, and then they came back in November, the Commonwealth and only got 10 million doses. They should have got 40 million so that it was a true back-up.”

If Swan’s sources are correct, the Commonwealth’s blunder on the vaccine is responsible for the ongoing lock-downs and border restrictions Australians are having to live with. While Australians are still struggling to get an appointment to be vaccinated, Israeli doctors have been calling people to offer them the vaccine since late February.

By late March, 60% of Israelis had already received their first shot, which is about as many people as wanted to be vaccinated at all.

Israel led the world in Covid-19 vaccination. Australia has currently vaccinated about 20% of the population.

Normally such a temperate personality, the mismanagement of Australia’s vaccine roll-out has clearly upset Dr Swan. “Maybe I’ve been doing this too long, but I’m just really angry. Now I’m crossing the line as a journalist, but I’m just really angry,” Swan told ABC Radio.

“The level of incompetence is breath-taking, and when you talk to people on the inside, they say it’s worse that what you imagine from the outside.”

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