Clive Palmer ad questioning Covid vaccines factually wrong, TGA says

Ben ButlerThu, 4 March 2021, 7:56 am

<img src="https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/r8SiwB2TOPL6FE3lgIwShw–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/https://s.yimg.com/uu/api/res/1.2/.RFimpLLaFmXR9NvzlYOEg–~B/aD02MDA7dz0xMDAwO2FwcGlkPXl0YWNoeW9u/https://media.zenfs.com/en/theguardian_763/8ce675f6cb8dedd49008b51a60564fc2&quot; alt="<span>Photograph: Dave Hunt/AAP
Photograph: Dave Hunt/AAP

A full-page advertisement signed by Clive Palmer in The Australian on Thursday questioning Covid-19 vaccination “contains factual inaccuracies”, the medicines regulator says.

The advertisement claimed that authorities gave permission for the emergency use of Covid-19 vaccines – a mechanism used in some countries such as the United States and United Kingdom, but not in Australia. Palmer said this approval should only be given to medicines when recipients were “in immediate danger of dying”, which was not the case for healthy Australians receiving the vaccine.

He also accused drug companies of lacking faith in their product because they sought and received government indemnities against injury or death caused by their vaccines.

Related: Clive Palmer spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on ads condemning Asic

However, a spokesman for the Therapeutic Goods Administration said there was no such thing as an “emergency use authorisation” for Covid-19 vaccines in Australia.

“Australia is one of the only countries in the world to have issued a formal regulatory approval for the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine and AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, and this approach of formal approval will be followed for other Covid-19 vaccine candidates if they are approved by the TGA,” he said.

“A decision to provisionally approve the vaccine was made following rigorous assessment of all the available data.”

Other countries gave emergency approval because of the “very high Covid-19 disease burden and risk in those countries”, the drug regulator spokesman said.

“Most countries that are using EUAs are continuing a formal review of the vaccines with the aim of achieving regulatory approval to support ongoing vaccination.

“Similarly, the TGA will continue to monitor the safety of Covid-19 vaccines as they are rolled out in Australia and internationally.”

Palmer’s Covid ad follows a print campaign, estimated to be worth up to $1.7m, attacking the corporate regulator, which is prosecuting him for serious criminal offences. He denies the allegations.

Related: Australian ‘myth-busting’ unit established to take on Covid misinformation

Labor’s Tony Burke said that in the vaccine ads Palmer made “absurd and baseless claims about vaccines not complying with the law” and called on the prime minister, Scott Morrison, and the health minister, Greg Hunt, to denounce him.

He said Morrison and Hunt had failed to act against misinformation spread by Craig Kelly, a government MP who last month quit the Liberal party to sit as an independent. He said they should now take action against Palmer, who was their “preference buddy” because of votes directed towards the Liberal party by the billionaire’s United Australia party.

“Public confidence in vaccines is critical to Australia’s recovery from the health and economic crisis of Covid-19,” Burke said.

A News Corp spokesman declined to comment and The Australian’s editor, Chris Dore, did not respond to questions sent by email. Palmer did not respond to questions sent by text message.