Australia will miss out on early access to COVID-19 vaccine
Australians could miss out on getting in early on the leading COVID-19 vaccine with US and UK citizens receiving it first.
The COVID-19 vaccine might be on the market from November but Australia does not yet have a contract to get a supply of the vaccine and the US and the UK will get it first.
The Oxford vaccine is leading the vaccine race and in September researchers will report on clinical trials testing and whether it prevents infection with the virus that causes COVID-19.
If it is found to work, residents of the US and the UK will get the vaccine first because their governments signed contracts in May with the big pharmaceutical company that is manufacturing the vaccine, even before it was known to be effective.
It comes as hopes were raised that Australia was close to a deal but it is now looking unlikely that we will be at the head of that queue if the vaccine does become available this year.
News Corp Australia has learned the Australian Government is still negotiating and does not yet have a supply agreement with pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca or the Serum Institute of India which are producing mass quantities of the Oxford vaccine.
When News Corp inquired whether the Australian Government has yet signed a contract for supply of the Oxford vaccine spokesman for the Minister for Health Greg Hunt said:
"Advanced negotiations are well underway with both CSL and other COVID-19 vaccine developers regarding access, supply, and onshore manufacturing options.
"Direct procurement with leading international vaccine candidates is highly advanced with multiple candidates," the spokesman said.
Australian Medical Association Vice president Dr Chris Moy said it was disappointing there was no framework that would ensure equitable access to vaccines around the world.
"It would be tragic if the Australian community didn't have access and we were further down the queue if we are unable to sign a deal in a timely manner," he said.
Professor Adrian Hill, the director of the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford has said the first one million doses of the vaccine will be available by September.
If the vaccine works it is likely to be authorised for use in emergencies by October or November and it will be ready to roll out to the general population by December, he said last month.
In May the US government secured 300 million doses of the Oxford vaccine by pledging to pay pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca $1.2 billion.
Last month the US government placed a $1.95 billion ($A2.8bn) upfront order for 100 million doses of another COVID-19 vaccine being produced by pharmaceutical company Pfizer. The deal also gives the US the option to acquire up to 500 million additional doses.
The US Government has also provided over $900 million to US biotech Moderna which is producing another vaccine against COVID-19.
In May the UK government reached a deal with AstraZeneca which agreed to deliver 100 million doses of the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine to people in Britain, with 30 million as soon as September.
Even the Swiss Government has reached deals with vaccine companies.
Australia will need to secure 50 million doses of the Oxford vaccine to vaccinate the entire population because two doses are needed.
While the Australian Government has set aside $256 million to fund a vaccine it has yet to purchase one.
The government has provided $5 million in funding to the University of Queensland to develop its molecular clamp vaccine for COVID-19 which is in early stage human trials.
This vaccine is likely to be produced here by Australia's local vaccine manufacturer CSL.
"The Government is assured that CSL has the capacity to produce sufficient vaccine for the entire Australian population either for Australian based vaccines or under licence for leading international vaccines," the minister's spokesman said.
Originally published as Australia will miss out on early access to COVID-19 vaccine