Australia, AstraZeneca ink deal for COVID-19 vaccine; citizens to get it for free


PTI, Aug 19, 2020, 5:44 PM IST

Australia announced a deal to manufacture a potential coronavirus vaccine being developed by British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. The country’s Prime Minister Scott Morison announced that it intends to roll out the vaccine to its citizens free of cost.

“All Australians will be offered doses but a medical panel will determine the priority list of vaccine recipients,” Health Minister Greg Hunt said.

“Naturally you would be focusing on the most vulnerable, the elderly, health workers, people with disabilities in terms of the speed of roll-out, but I think there would be widespread uptake in Australia, he added.

“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,” said PM Morrison.

AstraZeneca, the company that is developing the vaccine in partnership with Oxford University, said last month that good data was coming in so far on its vaccine for COVID-19. Large-scale human trials by the company have been seen widely as the front-runner in the race for a shot against the novel coronavirus.

The deal is still in its early stage and details like price and distribution still need to be worked out, at the same time, the Australian government has already indicated that it will spend billions of dollars ensuring the COVID-19 vaccine reaches all of its citizens.

The company, which is in the last stages of its trials, aims to prove how effective the vaccine in protecting humans from the coronavirus.

The US has made a deal with AstraZeneca for 300 million doses, expected to be delivered as early as October.

Other countries that have made deals for the potential supply of the vaccine from the company include Russia, South Korea, Japan, China, and Brazil.

Victoria in Australia reported 216 new daily cases in the last 24 hours compared with 222 a day earlier.

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