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Australia clinches COVID-19 vaccine production deals worth $1.7b

“There are no guarantees that these vaccines will prove successful, however the agreement puts Australia at the top of the queue if our medical experts give the vaccines the green light,” he said.

He said by securing the production and supply agreements, Australians would be among the first in the world to receive a safe and effective vaccine.

The government signed a letter of intent to secure the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine last month. It is the most progressed candidate, with late-stage phase three trials in Britain, Brazil, the United States and South Africa generating strong immune responses with no significant concerns.

The University of Queensland vaccine has been developed in Australia with government support and it was recently announced that pre-clinical testing had shown the vaccine was promising and already effective in animal models. Both of the vaccines are likely to require two doses for each person – an initial dose and then a booster.

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Trials of more than 160 candidates are expected to continue into 2021, with applications for regulatory approval likely to be submitted in a number of jurisdictions later this year. If proved successful and safe, the Oxford vaccines will be available from the beginning of 2021 while the UQ vaccines would be available from mid-2021.

More than 95 per cent of doses will be manufactured in Australia, with 33.8 million doses of the Oxford vaccine and 51 million of the UQ/CSL vaccine. Each batch of doses will take approximately one month to manufacture.

Mr Morrison also remains committed to ensuring early access to the vaccines for neighbouring Pacific nations as well as regional partners in south-east Asia. Both agreements allow for additional orders to be negotiated and or doses to be donated or on-sold – with no mark-up – to other countries or international organisations.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said the aim was to have as many Australians vaccinated as possible and he would consider medical advice on how to achieve that through public information campaigns.

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“All vaccinations help save lives and protect lives. This vaccination though is fundamental to the safety of individuals and our nation and it will protect our elderly and our frail and we can all help save lives,” Mr Hunt said.

He said while the government supported immunisation, it would not be mandatory and individuals maintain the option to choose not to vaccinate. Estimates are that up to 80-95 per cent of the population must have immunity to the disease to stop its spread.

Mr Hunt said any decisions regarding vaccines would be based on the advice of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on immunisation and other experts, and will be contingent on a vaccine meeting all requirements with regard to testing and safety.

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