CANBERRA, Australia – Australia’s regulator on Tuesday approved the AstraZeneca vaccine as its second for use against COVID-19.

Pfizer’s product will be available in Australia next week. It will be given in two doses three weeks apart, while AstraZeneca‘s will be administered in two doses 12 weeks apart.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Therapeutic Goods Administration, the regulator, found the AstraZeneca vaccine was safe and effective.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said the AstraZeneca vaccine will prevent serious COVID-19 illness.

Morrison will be vaccinated with the Pfizer product and Hunt with AstraZeneca in a demonstration of confidence in both vaccines.

Australia has contracted 53.8 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, and 50 million of those will be manufactured in Australia.

The government has also secured 20 million Pfizer vaccines for a population of 26 million.

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THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

– Hospitals still must ration medical N95 masks even as stockpiles swell by millions

– Vaccine delays leave grocery workers feeling expendable

– India’s dramatic fall in virus cases leaves experts stumped

– Explaining the UN vaccine plan for poor countries as it nears rollout

– Muted Mardi Gras: Closed bars, barricaded Bourbon Street

– Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

WELLINGTON, New Zealand – New Zealand reported no new virus cases in the community for a second day, raising hopes a lockdown in Auckland will be lifted Wednesday.

The three-day lockdown of New Zealand’s largest city was the nation’s first in six months.

Lawmakers say their final decision on whether to lift the lockdown will depend on any new information or cases that crop up over the next day.

The lockdown was prompted by the diagnoses of three family members, but how they got it remains a mystery.

The mother in the family works at a catering company that does laundry for airlines, and a possible link to infected passengers is being investigated. So far, other people at her workplace have tested negative, officials said.

Health officials have ramped up testing, administering more than 15,000 tests on Monday and processing the results of nearly 6,000.

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TEL AVIV, Israel – Dr. Anthony Fauci has won the $1 million Dan David Prize for “defending science” and advocating for vaccines now being administered to protect people from the coronavirus.

The Israel-based Dan David Foundation on Monday named President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser as the winner of one of three prizes. It said he had earned the recognition over a lifetime of leadership on HIV research and AIDS relief, as well as his advocacy for the vaccines against COVID-19.

In its statement, the private foundation did not mention former President Donald Trump, who undermined Fauci’s follow-the-science approach to the pandemic. But it credited Fauci with “courageously defending science in the face of uninformed opposition during the challenging COVID crisis.”

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