Pat Conaghan MP

Australia secures access to two more COVID-19 vaccine potentials

The Australian Government has secured access to two more COVID-19 vaccines, ensuring Australians are in the best position to gain early access, should trials prove the vaccines safe and effective.

The latest two agreements with Novavax and Pfizer/BioNTech mean the Government has now secured access to four possible vaccines.

Federal Member for Cowper Pat Conaghan said the Government’s COVID-19 Vaccine and Treatment Strategy ensured not all the Government’s investment and effort was in the one basket.

“These two new agreements strengthen the chances of residents in Cowper receiving a safe and effective vaccine in 2021,” he said.

“While there are still no guarantees as vaccines are yet to complete their clinical trials, we are working on the arrangements necessary to ensure Australians are at the front of the queue, should a vaccine become available next year.”

Investing in the Novavax and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines brings the Australian Government’s COVID-19 vaccine investment to more than $3.2 billion.

The new agreements build on the Australian 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).

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 Pfizer/BioNTech is a messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) type vaccine and the Novavax vaccine is a protein vaccine containing an adjuvant (Matrix-M) which enhances the immune response.

“The goal and the expectation is Australians who sought vaccination will be vaccinated within 2021,” Minister Hunt said.

“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.”

Subject to the vaccine being registered by the TGA as safe and effective, preliminary advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation is that the priority groups for the COVID-19 vaccine are those people who are at increased risk of exposure, such as health and aged care workers, the elderly and those working in services critical to societal functioning.

The Australian Government is currently 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.

Australia has a world-class vaccination program with world leading vaccination rates. The COVID-19 vaccine will not be mandatory, and individuals will maintain the option to choose not to vaccinate. The vaccine will be available free to those who choose to be vaccinated.

Internationally, Australia has also joined the COVAX facility, which will provide access to a large portfolio of COVID-19 candidates and manufactures around the world for up to 50 per cent of the Australian population.

The Australian Government has also committed to support access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for the Pacific and Southeast Asia, as part of a shared recovery for our region from the pandemic, as well as $80 million to the international COVAX Facility for the benefit of high-risk populations in developing countries.

The Government is contributing significantly to vaccine research and development both in Australia and around the world, investing $363 million in vaccines, therapeutics and COVID medicines – including $257 million in vaccines.

For the latest COVID-19 vaccine information visit the Australian Government’s Department of Health website.