Australia locks in COVID-19 vaccine deal

19 August 2020

Written by: James Strebinos

Australia is hopeful the vaccine would be ready to use by early 2021

The Morrison government has reached a deal which will see every Australian receive a free dose to a potential vaccine being produced by Oxford University.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said if the vaccine proves successful, then it will be mandatory for every Australian and hopes there is an “extensive and comprehensive response to this to get Australia back to normal”.

“I would expect it to be as mandatory as you can possibly make it,” the PM said.

“There are always exemptions for any vaccine on medical grounds but that should be the only basis.”

The vaccine must first pass human trials for production to begin in Australia.

If proved safe to inject, Australia will secure 25 million doses due to the agreement signed with British pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca.

The government also secured a $25 million contract with medical technology company Becton Dickson to supply needles.

With hopes the Oxford vaccine could be available to Australians early next year, the PM isn’t ruling out other options just yet with the development of the University of Queensland’s vaccine making good progress.

“The Oxford vaccine is one of the most advanced and promising in the world, and under this deal we have secured early access for every Australian,” he said.

“If this vaccine proves successful we will manufacture and supply vaccines straight away under our own steam and make it free for 25 million Australians.

“However there is no guarantee that this, or any other, vaccine will be successful, which is why we are continuing our discussions with many parties around the world while backing our own researchers at the same time to find a vaccine.”

Morrison says that at least two-thirds of Australians would need to be injected for the vaccine to be effective, and has issued a message to anti-vaxxers.

“You have got to get to herd immunity with any vaccines, and for those who are unable for absolute medical reasons, not able to take vaccines…they are the ones who rely on everybody taking it even more,” he said.

“So you have got to do it for yourself, your family and for your fellow Australians.

“I mean people can’t think of just themselves in these situations.”

With Victoria recording another 216 cases on Wednesday, a vaccine provides the key to life returning to normal for millions of Australians.

However, scientists working on the vaccine say that one dose may not be enough to protect against COVID-19 infections.

Oxford University’s Rebecca Ashfield said that booster shots may be required.

“My personal prediction — based on decreases in antibody levels in individuals infected with other types of coronavirus, rather than data from the current vaccine trial — is that we’re likely to need yearly boosters, similar to annual flu jabs,’’ Dr Ashfield said in July.

Photo: Photo by Bao_5 available here and used under a Creative Commons Attribution. The image has not been modified.