Jab approval injects business positivity

The federal government has announced the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is approved for use in Australia.
The federal government has announced the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is approved for use in Australia.

Australia's approval of its first coronavirus vaccine will lift confidence and help fuel the country's economic recovery from recession.

The federal government announced on Monday the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for use in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, with the start of vaccination program due late February.

"Australians can have confidence if the best regulator in the world approves the vaccine it is safe and effective," Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters in Canberra on Monday.

The vaccine announcement came one year to the day after Australia recorded its first coronavirus infection.

"It's an encouraging development," Commonwealth Securities chief economist Craig James told AAP.

"It's just adding to the positivity Down Under."

Australia is already enjoying a marked turnaround from its first recession in almost 30 years that was brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recent figures show 90 per cent of the jobs lost when the labour market collapsed between March and May last year when the pandemic struck have now been recovered.

Home building is also booming, retail spending is on a rising trend and international trade of goods remains buoyant.

The vaccine approval helped to lift Australian shares at the start of the week, despite US shares coming off the boil on Friday.

"While ever the good news continues, what we'll see is investors pricing in the fact company earnings will be rebounding and, overall, companies will be getting back to more normal levels of operation," Mr James said.

Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox says industry will be closely watching the vaccine roll out and hoping that it can provide real confidence to propel the economic recovery.

"The approval is a positive step on what will be a long process to bring COVID-19 under control," Mr Willox told AAP.

Business Council of Australia executive director Jess Wilson agreed the vaccine will be a crucial part of the recovery.

"But it won't be an instant solution," she told AAP.

"We can't control the global pandemic but as the vaccine is rolled out we must ensure we have a nationally consistent plan to live alongside the virus."

Ms Wilson said there must be a risk-based approach to managing restrictions that keep people safe while protecting jobs.

"Knee-jerk restrictions and disproportionate and inconsistent reactions are confusing and confidence sapping," she said.

Australian Associated Press