Australia approves Novavax amid Omicron battle

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Australia on Monday approved Novavax for people aged 18 and over, making it the fourth Covid-19 vaccine to be approved for use in the country after AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer amid the continued battle against the Omicron-fuelled pandemic.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has recommended the Novavax vaccine be given in two doses, at least three weeks apart, reports Xinhua news agency.

The government has ordered 51 million doses of the vaccine to be available in February, Health Minister Greg Hunt said.

“We will be able to commence that program in the week of February 21,” he told reporters on Monday.

Australia on Monday reported more than 40,000 locally-acquired coronavirus infections and 58 deaths — 24 in New South Wales, 17 in Victoria, 13 in Queensland and two each in South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory, according to health department figures from states and territories.

Hunt said there were promising signs that Australia’s wave of Omicron infections has peaked in some areas, with hospitalizations stabilizing.

“So, it’s an important moment where we are seeing, now, clear signs that this Omicron wave, at least in New South Wales, Victoria, and the ACT, has peaked,” he said.

From Monday, millions of welfare recipients are eligible to receive free rapid antigen tests.

However, the industry’s peak body warned that pharmacies do not have enough supply to meet demand but that pressure should ease by the end of January.

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