After the Federal Government has finalized various agreements to operate and monitor the national vaccine network, the effort to safely deliver tens of millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses to all Australians is to pay off.
While the Department of Health works with logistics firms DHL and Linfox to vaccinate people in Australia, Accenture will track vaccine doses and monitor any side effects.
The Ministry of Health has also agreed with the audit and accounting firm PwC to help implement the COVID-19 program, which will begin in March next year. Australian citizens, permanent residents and most visa holders will benefit from a free vaccine.
The Federal Government has made agreements for the supply of three COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer, Novavax and Oxford University-AstraZeneca. However, the most difficult to distribute will be the Pfizer vaccine.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said he did not want to create any expectations for the vaccine to be available before March, although the process is now "ahead of schedule."
Minister Hunt said their goal is to ensure that everything set forth in Australia's national guidelines and anticipation, starting in March, is in line for safe and effective distribution.
Pfizer vaccine will require extreme cold conditions
The government decided to buy 10 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, enough to vaccinate 5 million people. Since the Pfizer vaccine is based on new technology that has not previously been successfully manufactured or distributed locally, it needs approval from the Therapeutic Products Administration.
Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine has already received emergency use approval from health authorities in the UK, United States, Canada, Mexico, and the European Union. Of all the COVID-19 vaccines, it seems that the most difficult to store and transport will be the Pfizer vaccine. The vaccine should be transported and stored at -70 degrees Celsius, requiring special ultra-cold dry ice conditions. Under the new agreement, DHL and Linfox will always need to monitor and report the temperature of the successful vaccine.
The virus that causes COVID-19 enters healthy cells using a protein called "spike". Many vaccines inject some of this protein into the body to make antibodies and learn to fight coronavirus.
But Pfizer's vaccine contains genetic material called mRNA, which gives the body instructions to put the spike protein together so that it can generate an immune response. The Pfizer vaccine was shown to be 95% effective in preventing the disease in an advanced trial.
Carriers will also be responsible for moving vaccines from manufacturers to vaccine administration sites. Accenture will then design, develop, and implement software to ensure visibility of COVID-19 vaccine doses throughout the delivery chain. This will allow those with access to the system to see which healthcare services they have had the vaccine, citizens and whether any side effects have been recorded. The government expects the entire Australian population to be vaccinated by 2021.