Less than 1 percent of the 51 million Novavax Covid vaccines purchased by the federal government have been administered, according to a News Corp report published at the weekend.
The report said 13.4 million Novavax doses had been delivered, but only 218,000 shots had been given.
With the expiry date for stored vaccines looming, millions of doses would need to be thrown away if they were not used soon.
Executives quoted in the report said the low uptake of the Novavax product was due to “poor policy decisions”, as well as vaccine fatigue.
The Morrison government had considered the purchase of Novavax vaccines to be a high priority in its bid to inoculate Australians against Covid-19.
The protein-based vaccine was believed to be a good option for the “vaccine hesitant” who shied away from the mRNA vaccines produced by Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca.
But, according to the report, only 120,000 Novavax vaccines had been administered as primary doses, with 98,000 given as third or fourth booster shots.
The company’s chief medical officer Filip Dubovsky was critical of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation’s decision to recommended Novavax as a booster only for people who can’t or don’t want to have one of the mRNA vaccines, which it said were “preferred”.
He said the company recently presented the government with data to show its product was an effective booster for people who had already received other vaccine types and he hoped the ATAGI would change its advice. Australian Medical Association vice president Danielle McMullen said Novavax was much later to market than AstraZeneca and Pfizer.
“It’s a valuable option for people, particularly if people did have an adverse reaction to other vaccines, but it’s not at all surprising that it’s much smaller numbers being used,” Dr McMullen said.
The Commonwealth government is believed to have spent more than $8bn in the Covid-19 vaccine rollout, but the amount spent on each vaccine is the subject of confidential purchasing agreements with the manufacturers.
Earlier this year Health Minister Mark Butler announced an inquiry into the Morrison government’s Covid-19 vaccine supply deals.