Aus Govt secures two more COVID-19 vaccine agreements
The Australian Government has secured 50 million more doses of COVID-19 vaccines for the Australian population, as a result of two new agreements that bring the government’s total COVID-19 vaccine investment to more than $3.2 billion.
Under the agreements, Novavax will supply 40 million vaccine doses and Pfizer/BioNTech will provide 10 million vaccine doses, should the vaccines be proven safe and effective. The Pfizer/BioNTech is a messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) type vaccine and the Novavax vaccine is a protein vaccine containing an adjuvant (Matrix-M) that enhances the immune response. Phase 1 trials of the Novavax vaccine were conducted in Melbourne and Brisbane earlier this year, as part of the first human trial for a COVID-19 vaccine in the Southern Hemisphere.
These new agreements build on the Australian Government’s existing commitments to purchase the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and a local candidate from The University of Queensland together with Australian manufacturer CSL (Seqirus). The government’s COVID-19 Vaccine and Treatment Strategy has thus secured access to a total of four COVID-19 vaccines — two protein vaccines, one mRNA and one viral vector-type vaccine — and over 134 million doses.
“By securing multiple COVID-19 vaccines we are giving Australians the best shot at early access to a vaccine, should trials prove successful,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
“We aren’t putting all our eggs in one basket and we will continue to pursue further vaccines should our medical experts recommend them.
“There are no guarantees that these vaccines will prove successful; however, our strategy puts Australia at the front of the queue, if our medical experts give the vaccines the green light.”
The Novavax and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines are expected to be available in Australia from early to mid-2021, subject to approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). Should the vaccines be registered by the TGA as safe and effective, preliminary advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation is that priority groups should include those people who are at increased risk of exposure, such as health and aged-care workers, the elderly and those working in services critical to societal functioning.
The Australian Government is currently consulting with the states and territories, key medical experts and industry peak bodies on the framework for the initial rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination program in early 2021. Key vaccination sites will initially include GPs, GP respiratory clinics, state and territory vaccination sites, and workplaces such as aged care facilities. The vaccine will be available for free to those who choose to be vaccinated but will not be mandatory.
“The goal and the expectation is that Australians who sought vaccination will be vaccinated within 2021,” said Minister for Health Greg Hunt.
“There are no surprises; health and aged care workers and the elderly and vulnerable will be the first to gain access to a vaccine that’s deemed safe and effective.”
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