Government emails reveal vaccine delay.
Pfizer urged Australia's health minister to kick off negotiations on a vaccine deal in June last year as other nations clinched agreements with the pharmaceutical giant.
Emails released under the opposition's freedom of information request show Pfizer made first contact with the government on June 26 last year.
A high-ranking health bureaucrat was offered a meeting with senior global Pfizer bosses if Health Minister Greg Hunt or departmental leadership was involved.
"As the vaccine development landscape is moving swiftly, including through engagements with other nations, I am requesting this meeting occur at the earliest opportunity," the company's representative said.
Breaking: Federal bureaucrats turned down an offer from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer in mid-2020 for a detailed meeting with top executives and the Health Minister about the company’s progress on a COVID-19 vaccine | @rachelclun https://t.co/8OTDWf6GJG— The Sydney Morning Herald (@smh) September 8, 2021
The email also attached a letter to Mr Hunt requesting a meeting to open discussions about a potential vaccine deal.
Health Department first assistant secretary Lisa Schofield replied three days later saying she would meet with the company.
On July 6, Pfizer said the government would need to sign a confidential disclosure agreement for senior figures to provide detail about the company's approach.
Ms Schofield replied two days later telling Pfizer it was not usual practice to sign such agreements as officials were legally required to keep discussions secret.
An introductory meeting on July 10 was agreed to instead.
Health Department notes from the discussion show Pfizer wanted to speed up the process and rapidly deploy doses.