Australians could be some of the first in the world to receive a vaccine for coronavirus.
Scott Morrison has announced a $1.7 billion deal with two drug companies to secure millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses for as early as January 2021.
The vaccine would be “free and voluntary”.
It comes as the Federal Government signed a “letter of intent” with UK-company AstraZeneca last month to secure 25 million vaccine doses.
But that deal has been taken a step further with the confirmation of funds to secure the vaccine today.
The Australian vaccine being tested by UQ was not left out, with the Government confirming the Australian company responsible for providing the flu vaccine each year – CSL was being brought into the deal.
Between them, AstraZeneca and CSL will provide Australia with 84.8 million vaccine doses.
AstraZeneca will provide 33.8 million vaccine doses overall, with 3.8 million of those expected by January.
CSL will provide 51 million doses.
Both vaccines will likely be made up of two shots, with a second “booster” to be injected about a month later.
“Australians will gain free access to a COVID-19 vaccine in 2021 if trials prove successful,” Mr Morrison said.
“By securing the production and supply agreements, Australians will be among the first in the world to receive a safe and effective vaccine, should it pass late stage testing.
“There are no guarantees that these vaccines will prove successful, however the agreement puts Australia at the top of the queue, if our medical experts give the vaccines the green light.”
Health Minister Greg Hunt said the vaccine would likely offer “multi-year” protection – as opposed to a yearly injection being needed.
“The best advice that we have – and it’s not determined yet – is that there is likely to be multiyear protection,” he said.
“Nobody can say whether it will be lifetime.”
It comes as early results from the Russian vaccine – Sputnik V – published in the Lancet medical journal show patients are having a good immune response.
Results on how 40,000 Russians are responding to the vaccine is expected as early as next month, putting Russia first in the race to proving its vaccine works.
Watch: Prime Minister Scott Morrison announces a free COVID-19 vaccine for all Australians in 2021
Further COVID-19 news on SoPerth.com.au.