Australia Secures Two More COVID Vaccine Agreements

Australia Secures Two More COVID Vaccine Agreements
Prime Minister Scott Morrison addresses the media during a visit to AstraZeneca in Sydney, Australia on August 19, 2020. (Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

Australia will have access to 134 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines after the federal government secured two more agreements.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on November 5 will announce a deal with Novavax to supply 40 million vaccine doses and Pfizer-BioNTech for 10 million doses.

This brings the government’s COVID-19 vaccine investment to more than $3.2 billion, adding to deals with University of Queensland-CSL and Oxford-AstraZeneca.

Access to the vaccines is subject to clinical trial outcomes on the safety and effectiveness of each candidate, and approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

The Novavax vaccine, made in the United States and the Czech Republic, will require two doses per person, with the first supply expected to arrive in early 2021.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine candidate is also set to arrive in a similar timeframe and will be made in the United States, Belgium and Germany.

The Pfizer-BioNTech is a messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) type vaccine and the Novovax vaccine is a protein-type vaccine.

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.

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

Health and aged care workers, and the elderly and vulnerable will be the first to gain access to a vaccine.

People will be able to initially access the vaccines from GPs, GP respiratory clinics, state and territory vaccination sites and workplaces such as aged care facilities.

It will not be mandatory and will be made available free of charge.

The deal comes as the Queensland government is coming under increasing pressure from business leaders and other states to loosen its border restrictions.

The Sunshine State has reopened to regional NSW residents for the first time in almost four months, but Sydneysiders are still banned.

The hardline stance is looking increasingly untenable now the border between NSW and Victoria is reopening on November 23.

“Very proudly I say NSW will be the only jurisdiction in Australia that will be welcoming residents of all states, of all jurisdictions,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Wednesday.

Berejiklian challenged her Queensland counterpart to follow suit, but Annastacia Palaszczuk was unmoved.

Queensland won’t make any decisions on opening its border to greater Sydney or Victoria before the end of the month, Palaszczuk said.

Tasmania has scheduled its reopening to NSW residents on Friday.

It is hoped Victorians will be able to visit from December 1 if the state’s case numbers remain low.

Western Australia has flagged reopening its borders to all states and territories from November 14, although some restrictions will remain for people from NSW and Victoria.

NSW reported three locally transmitted infections and another six cases in hotel quarantine on Wednesday.

All three local cases were household contacts of people already in isolation.

Victoria recorded no new cases of coronavirus and no deaths for a fifth consecutive day.

Paul Osborne in Canberra
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