Australia secures 'promising' COVID-19 vaccine, will offer it for free
In a bid to exit the COVID-19 pandemic for good, Australia has secured access to a "promising vaccine." The country's Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a landmark agreement under which they will procure/manufacture the shot in question, and distribute it to the Australian public for free. Here is all you need to know about the vaccine and the deal.
On Tuesday, August 18, PM Morrison announced that his government has signed a deal with pharma giant AstraZeneca to obtain the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 candidate vaccine developed by the University of Oxford. The shot is still moving through the last stage of human trials, but Morrison said it is "one of the most advanced and promising in the world," making an ideal option for selection.
The initial agreement with AstraZeneca will cover the development, production, and distribution of the candidate vaccine. The total cost of the deal is expected to go into billions of dollars and, according to reports, Australia's largest biotechnology company, CSL, is already holding discussions to locally produce the shot while continuing the work on a second indigenous candidate at the same time.
As for distribution, Morrison assured the public that, "If this vaccine proves successful we will manufacture and supply vaccines straight away under our own steam and make it free for 25 million Australians."
Along with AstraZeneca, the Australian government is also pursuing discussions with other pharma companies engaged in COVID-19 vaccine development. "There is no guarantee that this, or any other, vaccine will be successful, which is why we are continuing our discussions with many parties around the world while backing our own researches at the same time to find a vaccine," Morrison emphasized.
In early Phase-1/2 trials, the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine displayed a positive outcome by safely generating a dual immune response, antibodies and T Cells, in all study participants. Notably, Adar Poonawalla's Serum Institute is also working with the company to manufacture and distribute the same shot in India and other low-and-middle-income nations. The price of the vaccine in these countries would be around $3/dose.