The government has backed its own health advisers and AstraZeneca against vaccine scientists who urged a rethink of mass immunity strategies. Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Health Minister Greg Hunt were confronted with a new Oxford University study showing the AstraZeneca vaccine was less effective in preventing mild symptoms of the South African variant of COVID-19. The South African government suspended plans to use the AstraZeneca vaccine on front-line workers based on the study. Australia is proceeding with plans to rollout 20 million Pfizer doses starting in late February and more than 50 million AstraZeneca doses starting early in March, if as expected the Therapeutic Goods Administration gives the green light. The prime minister said the government takes its advice from Health Department head Brendan Murphy, who also leads the vaccine science and technology taskforce, and expert panels such as the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee. "They look at the peer-reviewed science and they make the recommendations to us, and as recently as just the last few days, it continues to be very positive," Mr Morrison said on Monday. He said the mutating coronavirus could become like many other viruses that don't lead to serious illness and don't require the types of responses seen over the past year. AstraZeneca noted the study used a small sample in South Africa and wasn't able to assess whether the vaccine preventing severe symptoms in that variant. Nor has it been peer reviewed. Mr Hunt said Australia's expert advisers had not seen evidence to indicate a diminished effectiveness in preventing severe disease or death in either the AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccines. "The world is reviewing data ... we will see, during the course of this pandemic, not just every week, not just every day, but sometimes multiple times a day, different pieces of news," the health minister said. While the study was disappointing, Associate Professor Nathan Bartlett from the School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy at the University of Newcastle said it was too early for Australia to follow South Africa's footsteps. "We will get better vaccines coming out all the time. It's an iterative process," Dr Bartlett said. "We always knew the first generation vaccines would be far from perfect, and certainly not a magic bullet ... this is a long game with incremental gains." The government also announced free e-training modules for healthcare workers helping administer the Pfizer doses following a partnership with the Australian College of Nursing. "It is not difficult but it is an important step," Mr Hunt said. "It includes content which is relevant to the vaccines that Australia will be using, in particular the use of what are called multidose phials." Due to the urgency of distribution, vials will contain multiple doses and the potential for wastage has been a concern. Doses will be wasted if they do not match the number of patients able to be vaccinated within the 6-hour window after opening. Special syringes and all hands on deck are needed, says Dr Chris Moy, vice president of the AMA. But GPs will still be at the centre of the rollout due to their knowledge of the individual's medical history and experience. "We're going to need this level of training commitment which we've not had before from a mass vaccine rollout in the time that's been required ... so we make sure that everybody knows exactly what they're doing." Dr Moy said. "There's a fair bit of work still to happen before, before it all comes to be."