Australians will receive a COVID-19 vaccine free of charge under a new deal announced by the prime minister – assuming trials go well

The Oxford vaccine undergoes its first human trials. (Felix Dlangamandla, Beeld, Gallo Images via Getty Images)
  • The Australian government has secured a deal for 25 million doses of the Oxford University vaccine, if tests prove successful.
  • Under the agreement Australia would be able to manufacture the vaccine locally once a formula is approved.
  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the Oxford vaccine one of the most promising, and said he was hopeful it could be made available from early next year.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

Australia could soon be producing a promising coronavirus vaccine candidate locally, under a new agreement struck between the federal government and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.

The deal would secure every Australian a dose of the vaccine being developed by Oxford University, pending successful trials.

“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,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, announcing the arrangement.

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

It comes after the UK government signed on for 100 million doses for itself, as the Oxford vaccine undergoes a third phase of testing.

However, Australia’s agreement appears to be a little more advanced, granting Australia immediate access to a successful formula and granting it permission to manufacture its own doses locally.

If trials prove safe and effective, the vaccine would be rolled out on a priority basis, with frontline workers and the elderly set to be the first recipients. While the potential cost of the program remains undisclosed, it’s been suggested vaccines could be available as early as the end of this year or the start of next if all goes well.

Local biotech CSL is currently in discussions with the federal government and AstraZeneca to produce the vaccine in Melbourne. It’s also struck a separate partnership to be part of the University of Queensland (UQ) trials.

Regardless of who ends up producing it, the federal government doubled down on its vaccine strategy on Wednesday. The health department is set to unveil a multi-billion dollar vaccine plan which includes $24.7 million for 100 million syringes and needles.

Even if it all goes off without a hitch, it may be a while until it’s all over. Bill Gates has suggested that even with a vaccine the pandemic won’t end until the end of 2021 and that’s pending at least 70% of people actually taking the vaccine.

Even then, the World Health Organisation says social distancing isn’t going anywhere.

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