BRITAIN'S drugs regulator has blasted Australian prime minister Scott Morrison for claiming the UK has taken “unnecessary risks” in rolling out its coronavirus vaccine.
More than one million Brits have received the Covid-19 jab after the MHRA gave the green light for the Pfizer and Oxford AstraZenica vaccines to be administered.
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Mr Morrison suggested the UK was "cutting corners" in rolling out its covid vaccines – a claim which has been dismissed by the agency.
The premier is under immense pressure to accelerate Australia's coronavirus jab rollout, which isn't due to begin until March.
He said the country was "not in an emergency situation" like the UK.
Covid cases in the UK today jumped by 60,916 in the highest ever rise as England was forced into a third lockdown.
"We don't have to cut corners. We don't have to take unnecessary risks," Mr Morrison told radio station 3AW.
"They're not testing batches of vaccines before they're disseminated across the population, is my understanding."
The MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency), which led the world in approving both vaccines, has dismissed the claims.
The regulator said: "Biological medicines such as vaccines are very complex in nature and independent testing, as done by the National Institute For Biological Standards and Control, is vital to ensure quality and safety.
"NIBSC has scaled up its capacity to ensure that multiple batches can be tested simultaneously, and that this can be done as quickly as possible, without compromising quality and safety."
Speaking at the launch of the Oxford vaccine yesterday, Boris Johnson said batch testing was holding up the rollout of the jab.
The PM hopes that over 13million Brits will have been vaccinated by mid February.
"We have the capacity, the issue is to do with supply of the vaccine. It’s not so much a manufacturing issue although that’s part of it.
"Each batch needs to be properly approved and quality controlled," he said.
"It’s not the ability to distribute the vaccine, it’s not the shortage of staff. It’s getting it properly tested. That will ramp up in the weeks ahead."
Opposition leader Anthony Albanense has called on the Australian government to start rolling out the vaccine once it is approved by the country's regulator.
"Also, there’s only been provision made for 10m doses [of the Pfizer vaccine] – quite clearly we’re going to need more than that. And so we need more vaccines, more quickly," he said.
The comments to fast-track a vaccine were slammed as "very dangerous" by the Australian premier.
Allen Cheng, chair of the Advisory Committee for Vaccines, said "we can afford to wait for the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Association) to do its job and make sure we're getting a safe, effective and quality vaccine".
Australia – with a population of around 25 million – has agreed to buy almost 54 million doses of the Oxford vaccine, with 3.8 million to be delivered early this year.
It also reached an agreement for 51 million doses of Novavax this year, 10 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine early this year, and had invested in a domestic Queensland university vaccine that was scrapped while still in trials.
Australia has largely eliminated community transmission but is currently battling to contain small clusters of the disease in the country's biggest cities, Sydney and Melbourne.
Around 26 people are currently in hospital nationwide with the disease.
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