Qantas delivered over 450,000 additional doses of the Pfizer vaccine from the UK to Australia on Sunday night, just days after Prime Minister Scott Morrison struck a new deal to add 4 million doses to Australia’s supply.
A Qantas Boeing 787 Dreamliner, VH-ZND, touched down in Sydney as flight QF10 just after 6pm on Sunday night, carrying 164,970 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
Boasting its iconic Indigenous Yam Dreaming livery, VH-ZND departed London on Saturday morning, flew 17 hours to Perth, and took off for its final leg to Sydney just after midday on Sunday.
The second delivery flight, QF110, arrived at Sydney Kingsford Smith around three hours later, after 9pm, with 292,500 doses in tow.
These doses departed London aboard VH-ZNK, another 787 Dreamliner, on Saturday and landed in Darwin nearly 18 hours later. In Darwin, the cargo was transferred to VH-QPF, an Airbus A330, which departed at 5pm on Sunday.
Together, Qantas delivered over 10 per cent of the total 4 million doses secured under the new agreement, with the remaining doses to be delivered in the coming days and weeks.
Prime Minister Morrison announced that he had struck a ‘dose swap’ deal with his UK counterpart Boris Johnson on Friday, that would see Australia’s Pfizer supply doubled within the month.
“Thanks Boris, I owe you a beer,” PM Morrison said following the announcement.
Australia will be required to return the same number of doses back to the UK at a later date, which will be used as booster shots for its population, according to UK high commissioner to Australia Vicki Treadell.
“We are delighted to be able to support Australia’s progress in protecting against COVID,” Treadell said of the deal.
“The maxim ‘None of us are safe till all of us are safe’ is not border limited.”
PM Morrison said on Friday he was not against making other similar deals with governments around the globe, to ensure Australia’s vaccine rollout, which has fallen behind most wealthy nations, moves ahead unhindered.
“I said I would leave no stone unturned and I can tell you I’ve been turning over some stones in recent times to ensure that we can progress the vaccination program as quickly as we possibly can,” he said.
Australia has also secured a separate dose-swap deal with Singapore for an additional 500,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine which are set to expire shortly.
According to Health Minister Greg Hunt, the new doses will see Australia with “well over” 10 million doses this month alone.
Prime Minister Morrison has said additional doses and a hasty vaccine rollout is key to the country’s swift reopening.
“This will enable us to bring forward significantly the opportunity for Australia to open up again under the national plan,” he said.
“This really does break the back of it, I think it’s fair to say.”