Australia hopes to roll out almost 85 million vaccine doses

Australia hopes to roll out almost 85 million vaccine doses
The first doses of the vaccines, if successful, could be distributed from January. Source: Getty Images
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Daily US Times: Australia says if two promising trials prove successful, it will secure almost 85 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia had struck two deals that would allow free doses to be rolled out in 2021 if they were approved for use.

He estimated the cost to be A$1.7bn (£0.9bn; $1.24bn).

The country’s 25 million people could begin receiving doses from January but there were “no guarantees”, he said.

Mr Morrison said: “However the agreement puts Australia at the top of the queue, if our medical experts give the vaccines the green light.”

One vaccine is a local one from the University of Queensland and CSL and the other is from Oxford University and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.

Australia has recorded 769 deaths and more than 26,000 coronavirus cases, while most of the deaths are in the past two months after an outbreak in Victoria.

On Sunday, the state announced it was extending its strict lockdown for another two weeks, before gradually easing restrictions.

People in Melbourne will not be able to visit other households for group gatherings until at least late November, according to the plan.

Vaccine to be produced in Australia

The government said most of the vaccines would be manufactured in Australia in line with previous promises.

The nation has agreements for 51 million doses of a UQ vaccine and 33.8 million doses of the Oxford vaccine, reported the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Early access to the Oxford vaccine – if it is found to work – could begin in January and February with 3.8 million doses secured for that period.

The Oxford vaccine is in phase three of clinical trials and is being tested on 30,000 people. Last month Australia announced it had secured access to it.

Meanwhile, the UQ/CSL vaccine is in phase one of clinical trials, involving tests on a small control group.

The government of Australia has said that immunisation won’t be compulsory but strongly encouraged and the nation is aiming for a 95% vaccination rate.

The Prime Minister said Australia also remained committed to ensure vaccine access for its neighbours in the Pacific and South East Asia.

Countries around the world have been scrambling to arrange deals for potential Covid-19 vaccines, prompting concerns that poorer countries may miss out.

The World Health Organization said in July that 165 countries had signed up to a fund which would see wealthier nations help poorer nations with access.

You may read: Coronavirus: Strict lockdown extended in Melbourne