Should Australia continue to send AstraZeneca vaccines overseas?

The Federal Government is now projecting that AstraZeneca will be phased out from Australia’s vaccine rollout program in October.

Does Australia therefore have an obligation to ensure AstraZeneca is also phased out from use in developing nations in the Pacific, and South Asia that are receiving doses of AstraZeneca from Australia as a part of commitments to international vaccine aid programs like COVAX and Australia’s own $200 million dollar support program for our Pacific neighbors?

The AstraZeneca vaccine was once touted as the “jab” most of the Australian population would receive, with 50 million doses to be manufactured locally by CSL in Victoria.

After numerous confirmed instances of adverse reactions linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine in the form of blood clotting, leading to hospitalizations and death, Australian regulators have changed the recommended age for use multiple times. This has led to an increase in vaccine hesitancy amongst the Australian population, in particular a high reluctance to get the AstraZeneca “jab”. There is no doubt that as a result the trust in the AstraZeneca “jab” has taken a major hit in Australia, and is a part of the decision to phase it out so dramatically.

Therefore, is it ethical to continue to send AstraZeneca vaccines to developing nations, with populations that are at the mercy of less developed health infrastructure and advice? It is not clear if these countries which are being “gifted” AstraZeneca by Australia are adhering to the same expert advice as Australian regulators, so should conditions be attached to these doses, or is it ok for developing nations to take risks which would not be taken by Australia (the drug supplier)?

To put it more bluntly should we be giving our unwanted leftovers deemed not good enough for our local population to less fortunate nations in the region? Normally these types of acts of demonstrable inequality would garner a lot of attention. Why is it ok in this instance?

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