The government expects the two vaccines will be available in Australia from early to mid-2021: subject to them being proven safe and effective and approved by the country's regulator.
Australia has now lined up a total of 134 million doses across four vaccine candidates, with today's announcement following agreements made in September with the University of Oxford / AstraZeneca (for 33.8 million doses) and Australia’s University of Queensland / CSL (51 million doses).
Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine portfolio now has two protein vaccines (Novavax, CSL) and one mRNA (Pfizer) and one viral vector (AZ) vaccine.
“By securing multiple COVID-19 vaccines we are giving Australians the best shot at early access to a vaccine, should trials prove successful,” said Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
“We aren’t putting all our eggs in one basket and we will continue to pursue further vaccines should our medical experts recommend them.”
Any vaccine for use in Australia will have to be approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and registered by the regulator as safe and effective. Preliminary advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation is that priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination are those who are at increased risk of exposure (for example health and aged care workers, the elderly and those working in services critical to society).
The Australian Government is currently consulting with the states and territories, key medical experts and industry peak bodies on the framework for the initial roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccination program in early 2021.
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 not be mandatory in Australia, but will be free to those who choose vaccination.
The Government highlights its contribution to R&D in both in Australia and around the world, investing $363m ($263m USD) in vaccines, therapeutics and COVID medicines (including $257m / $186m USD in vaccines).
With the roll-out of a potential COVID-19 vaccine presenting a significant logistical challenge, suppliers are currently being invited to participate in a limited tender process.