Local news – Deal signed to provide COVID vaccine early next year

Living in Victoria, we really need some hope right now. 

The Victorian restrictions have been devastating and the path out looks like it will be long and protracted. One of our best chances of getting back to normal is if a vaccine for the virus is found and made accessible.

Recently we have been making some great progress.

Last month we secured a $1.7 billion deal for the supply and production of both the Oxford University vaccine and the University of Queensland vaccine, should their trials prove successful.  These vaccines are some of the most developed in the world and are both very promising candidates.

As a federal government we have been focused on getting agreements in place so that if and when a vaccine becomes available, we can quickly produce it and make it accessible to every Australian for free. Ultimately, this will save lives, protect lives, and allow Australians to return to their lives.

The Oxford University vaccine is the most progressed in its development and is currently in the final phase of development. It shows strong antibody responses, strong T-cell responses and outstanding safety outcomes with the Phase 3 clinical trial seeing  it tested on 50,000 people across the globe.

Although the development has been accelerated, safety has remained the top priority. The Oxford trial were recently paused due to a possible adverse effect in one patient, but after the case was independently assessed it was deemed that trials could safely continue.  This is a clear demonstration that safety remains the most important consideration in the development of this vaccine. We will never produce a vaccine that is unsafe.

If the Oxford vaccine successfully passes these trials and is approved by the governing bodies, it could be available as early as January next year.

The Queensland University vaccine is not as progressed and is currently in Phase 1 of human trials but is still a very promising candidate.

Having agreements for both these vaccines means that we have a greater chance of having a safe vaccine that we can produce. We will continue to sign deals when promising candidates are found to increase this chance.

We expect that a vaccine will be initially provided to healthcare workers and the vulnerable, then the rest of Australia. The PM has made it clear that vaccines cannot

be made compulsory, but we do expect most Australians to jump on the opportunity to protect themselves against this virus and return to their normal lives.

There is still a chance that a successful vaccine may not be developed, but at the same time I am carefully optimistic that we will have one next year.  It is a bit of hope in what has been a very distressing year for Victorians.