20 August 2020
Release date: 19 August 2020
Australians will be among the first in the world to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, if it proves successful, through an agreement between the Australian Government and UK-based drug company AstraZeneca.
Under the deal, every single Australian will be able to receive the University of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine for free, should trials prove successful, safe and effective.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Oxford University trial was in a phase three stage and more work was needed to prove its viability.
“The Oxford vaccine is one of the most advanced and promising in world, and under this deal we have secured early access for every Australian,” the Prime Minister 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.
“We are taking advice from Australia’s best medical and scientific expertise to ensure that the Government’s work to select, produce and purchase COVID-19 vaccines and treatments is based on the best available knowledge.”
The Prime Minister also remains committed to ensuring early access to the vaccine for countries in our Pacific family, as well as regional partners in Southeast Asia.
The Government has also released Australia’s COVID-19 Vaccine and Treatment Strategy, guided by a group of medical and industry experts.
The Strategy sets out Australia’s approach to acquire doses of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines based on:
The first announcements under the strategy are the signing of a Letter of Intent with AstraZeneca to supply the University of Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate to Australia and a consumables contract with Becton Dickinson for the supply of needles and syringes.
The Letter of Intent covers vaccine development, production and distribution. It commits to production of the vaccine in Australia, subject to safety and effectiveness.
A final formal agreement will include distribution, timing and price of the vaccine.
Becton Dickinson has been contracted to supply vital consumables, such as needles and syringes, to ensure that we can deliver vaccine doses as soon as we have them.
Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, said “From early on Australian officials led by my department has been meeting with developers and manufacturers of a number of promising vaccine candidates, both domestic and international, over recent months.
“We are confident these actions and targeted investments will put us in the best possible position to secure early access to safe and effective vaccines for Australia.”
The country’s most experienced scientists, biotech and pharmaceutical experts have been brought together to provide advice on acquiring a portfolio of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccinations.
The COVID-19 Vaccines and Treatments for Australia – Science and Industry Technical Advisory Group met for the first time earlier this week.
The advisory group is led by Professor Brendan Murphy, Secretary of the Department of Health, who has a leading role in managing the Government’s pandemic response.
The group will also provide advice on implementing Australia’s COVID-19 Vaccine and Treatment Strategy that drives the Government’s work with the states and territories, research organisations, industry, regulators and other countries.
Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said Australia’s manufacturing capability is a huge asset in the push to deliver a COVID vaccine.
“The Australian pharmaceutical industry and its ability to produce vaccines is already among the best in the world and that puts us in a strong position to be able to roll out a COVID vaccine as quickly as possible,” Minister Andrews said.
“Through a coordinated approach and strategic investments we can also improve our knowledge and strengthen our manufacturing capability to respond in the future.”
Australia is contributing significantly to vaccine development work both in Australia and around the world, investing $333 million in vaccines, therapeutics and COVID medicines – including $256 million in vaccines.
This includes $5 million for the University of Queensland’s innovative “molecular clamp” COVID-19 vaccine. This Australian vaccine has commenced trials here in Australia.
The University of Queensland has partnered with CSL to manufacture its vaccine here in Australia. CSL has made a commitment that its dose allocation of the University of Queensland vaccine will be used, at a minimum, to support its long-standing public health commitment to the Australian community.