Australia will be one of the first countries to receive the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine from U.K.-based biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement.
The Australian Government has struck a deal with the drug company to receive the University of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine, if AZD1222 vaccine candidate proves successful. AstraZeneca is developing the vaccine in partnership with the University of Oxford.
Under the deal, the government will offer all 25 million Australians the COVID-19 vaccine for free.
“The Oxford vaccine is one of the most advanced and promising in world, and under this deal we have secured early access for every Australian,” Morrison said.
An Australian vaccine already has commenced trials in Australia.
The Prime Minister said he also remains committed to ensuring early access to the vaccine for countries in the Pacific family, as well as regional partners in Southeast Asia.
Australia has contracted U.S.-based medical technology company Becton, Dickinson and Co. or BD (BDX) to supply vital consumables, such as needles and syringes, to ensure the vaccine doses can be delivered as soon as it is available.
Australia is contributing significantly to vaccine development work both in Australia and around the world, investing $333 million in vaccines, therapeutics and COVID medicines.
Nearly 200 vaccine candidates are in various stages of development across the world. AstraZeneca’s vaccine is among the leading vaccine candidates. AstraZeneca may begin delivering doses to the U.K. as early as September.
The pandemic has claimed more than 780,000 lives, worldwide.
In late April, AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford had entered into an agreement for the global development and distribution of the University’s potential recombinant adenovirus vaccine aimed at preventing COVID-19 infection from SARS-CoV-2. Under the agreement, AstraZeneca would be responsible for development and worldwide manufacturing and distribution of the vaccine.
In July 2020, interim results from the ongoing Phase I/II COV001 trial, led by Oxford University, were published in The Lancet, that showed AZD1222 was tolerated and generated robust immune responses against the SARS-CoV-2 virus in all evaluated participants.
The late-stage Phase II/III trials are currently underway in the UK, Brazil and South Africa and are due to start in the US, Japan and Russia. The results are anticipated later in the year.
Last week, the European Commission (EC) struck a deal with AstraZeneca to supply up to 400 million doses of its AZD1222 COVID-19 vaccine. The company has entered into similar deals with Russia, South Korea, Japan, China, Latin America and Brazil to take the global supply capacity towards three billion doses of the vaccine.
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