The federal government has signed two more agreements for COVID-19 vaccines, which could potentially provide another 50 million doses.
Last week, the federal government announced Novavax would supply 40 million vaccine doses and Pfizer/BioNTech would provide 10 million vaccine doses, should the vaccines be proven safe and effective.
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) for use in Australia.
The new agreements build on the federal 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 Limited (Seqirus).
“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 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.”
Health Minister Greg Hunt said Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine portfolio now had two protein vaccines and one mRNA and one viral vector type vaccine, strengthening Australia’s position to access safe and effective vaccines as soon as available.
“The goal and the expectation is Australians who sought vaccination will be vaccinated within 2021.
“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.”
The federal government is 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 COVID-19 vaccine will be free but not mandatory, and individuals will maintain the option to choose not to vaccinate.
Victorian Senator Sarah Henderson said the government’s COVID-19 Vaccine and Treatment Strategy had now secured access to four COVID-19 vaccines and more than 134 million doses.
“These two new agreements strengthen the chances of residents in Victoria receiving a safe and effective vaccine in 2021.”