19 Aug Free COVID-19 vaccine announcement for Australia
The Federal Government has brokered a deal with the world’s leading COVID-19 vaccine researchers that will see every Australian receive the vaccine for free.
The Oxford University vaccine is being developed in tandem with UK-based drug company AstraZeneca and is the most advanced in the world, moving to the third stage of trials which includes human testing on thousands of subjects.
And today Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that Australia has secured 25 million doses of the vaccine it is proved to be successful, more than enough to cover our population of 25,537,753 (correct as of August 18, 2020).
“The Oxford vaccine is one of the most advanced and promising in the world, and under this deal, we have secured early access for every Australian,” he said.
The vaccine will be developed and manufactured here in Australia before being administered to the population. The announcement comes after a difficult year for Australia and the world.
As of August 19, there have been 783,429 deaths globally including 438 in Australia. There have been almost 24,000 recorded cases in Australia which have forced widespread lockdowns, while Melbourne has been put back into stage 4 lockdown measures following a second wave spike of the virus.
The Queensland border remains closed to Victorians and people from NSW and are expected to remain closed until Christmas.
“Today is a day of hope and Australia needs hope, the world needs hope when it comes to this coronavirus,” Prime Minister Morrison said.
“Should we be in a position for the trials to be successful we would hope that this would be made available early next year if it can be done sooner than that, great.
“But we are very much in the hands of people wearing white coats … and they have been doing tremendous work.
“We’re putting our hope in their science, in their work and to ensure they can bring their trials to a conclusion.”
When will the COVID-19 vaccine be available?
The Prime Minister is optimistic the first vaccines will roll out across Australia in early 2021 but warned there would be no “cutting corners” to bring that date forward.
“The vaccine will need to satisfy all the same standards that all vaccines are expected to live up to here in Australia before they are made available as a product,” he said.
“There won’t be any cutting corners, there won’t be any undue haste here. There will be the appropriate controls and protections that are put in place.”
Will the COVID-19 vaccine be mandatory?
In the initial stages, the Federal Government will be calling for voluntary takeup of the vaccine before moving to implement measures for mandatory injections.
“I am advised that we will need about a 95 per cent vaccination rate across the country, that is the normal target range from when you are having a vaccination program,” Prime Minister Morrison said.
“This is like any vaccine and as you know I have a pretty strong view on vaccines being the Social Services Minister that introduced No Jab, No Play,” the Prime Minister said.
“What is important to understand with any of these vaccines, it does protect you, it does protect your family but it also protects the community.
“As is the case with any vaccine, there will be some individuals who for quite precise medical reasons, there can be issues with a particular vaccine. Their safety depends on the vaccine’s take up more broadly in the community.
“We’re going to take this one step at a time … I am open to all options, I want to be very clear about that. I am open to all options to ensure we have the strongest possible take up.”
Australia not locked into Oxford deal, will explore other options
The deal with Oxford University and AstraZeneca does not lock Australia out of any other potential vaccine breakthroughs, with a number of promising studies being undertaken around the world, including right here in Queensland.
“There are about 160 different projects around the world and Professor Brendan Murphy is leading a team of experts to identify and work through the other promising options,” Prime Minister Morrison said.
“And of course we have the University of Queensland option, which is not quite as advanced as what is happening with Oxford, but that is making good progress.”
To help protect your workers during the COVID-19 pandemic before the vaccination is rolled out, register for SPR today. It is completely free for all Australian small businesses (up to 50 licences) and allows for simple health checks and risk assessment to ensure your workers, contractors and customers are safe.