Scott Morrison says Australia has sued the Oxford vaccine because it is “one of the most advanced and promising in the world.” But the prime minister said Australia would continue negotiations with other parties.
“There is no guarantee that this vaccine or any other vaccine will be successful, which is why we are continuing our discussions with many parties across the world while supporting our own research at the same time to find a vaccine,” said Morrison in a statement.
The government offers to sign a letter of intent with AstraZeneca and to enter into a consumables contract with Becton Dickinson for the supply of needles and syringes. The total cost of the program will likely run into the billions of dollars.
The government says the initial agreements will cover vaccine development, production and distribution and will contain a commitment to produce the vaccine locally. Subsequent agreements will include the distribution, timing and price of the vaccine.Australia’s largest biotech company, CSL, has confirmed it is in discussions with AstraZeneca and the government regarding local production of the Oxford vaccine, as well as further work on another candidate under development at the University of Queensland.
A statement from CSL said: “The development of the UQ vaccine candidate remains CSL’s priority, however, we are currently in talks with AstraZeneca and the Australian government to assess whether it is possible to provide local manufacturing support for the. vaccine Oxford University / AstraZeneca. he succeeded, while protecting our commitment to the UQ vaccine.
“We are evaluating the viability of options ranging from filling and finishing the bulk product imported into Australia to manufacturing the candidate vaccine under license. There are a number of technical issues to be resolved and discussions are ongoing. ”
As the government signaled over the weekend that a vaccine deal was reached, the Labor Party said Morrison should increase the funding available to Australian researchers.
“There absolutely should be more Commonwealth funding, and $ 5 million to the University of Queensland is not enough when you consider that the Queensland government is putting [in] $ 10 million, ”shadow Minister of Health Chris Bowen said.
“The state government is investing double what the national government has done and there are other vaccines in development in Australia without any government support and funding for Covid-19. Some of them may work. ”
Morrison has stepped up public warnings in recent weeks that countries must share any coronavirus vaccine that proves effective and safe through clinical trials. While declining to name the country or countries to which he could refer, the Prime Minister said: “Any country that finds this vaccine and does not make it available worldwide, without restraint, would be judged horribly by history and that is certainly Australia’s point of view.
In addition to working to secure Australia’s supply, the government says it will work to ensure that the Pacific and countries in Southeast Asia have rapid access to a Covid vaccine.
Australia has submitted a non-binding expression of interest to join the World Health Organization’s “Covax” program, which is an international collaboration to fight so-called “vaccine nationalism”. The program aims to secure two billion doses of a Covid vaccine by the end of next year.
More than 160 candidate vaccines are currently in development. Oxford vaccine trials are scheduled to run from 2020 to 2021.