Australia expects 2 million doses a week of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine from October - SMH

CANBERRA, May 23 (Reuters) - Australia expects to receive 2 million doses a week of Pfizer's (PFE.N) COVID-19 vaccine from October, Minister for Health Greg Hunt told the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) on Sunday.

Australia has ordered 40 million doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine, which Canberra intends to use to inoculate its population under the age of 50.

While Australia has previously confirmed it would receive half of its Pfizer order in the fourth quarter of 2021, the timetable for delivery for the bulk of the first 20 million doses was not previously known.

Hunt told the SMH that supplies from Pfizer will accelerate next month and leave Australia with a consistent supply of 2 million doses each week from October.

There will be "an available pool of two million doses [a week] for 13 weeks in the final quarter of 2021", Hunt told the newspaper.

Should the timetable be realised, it would allow Australia to accelerate COVID-19 inoculations and reduce the threat of prolonged economically damaging social distancing restrictions.

Australia has reported relatively low levels of COVID-19, at just under 30,000 cases and 910 deaths.

Though the national immunisation drive missed its initial dosage targets, officials have ramped up the vaccination programme administering 1 million doses in the last 17 days.

So far, about 3.5 million total vaccine shots have been administered, far short of the 4 million pledged by March-end.

Meanwhile, a second repatriation flight carrying 165 people from India arrived in Australia on Sunday.

Canberra last weekend lifted a controversial ban on Australians returning from India.

Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Daniel Wallis

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