The Australian government has agreed to purchase two more COVID-19 vaccines under development to increase the country’s potential arsenal against the pandemic to 135 million doses, as a mass vaccination program is expected to be completed within months.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Thursday the government would buy 40 million doses of vaccine from Novavax and 10 million from Pfizer and BioNTech.
This adds to the 85 million cans Australia has already pledged to buy from AstraZeneca and CSL Ltd if the trials prove successful. The total expected expenditure in the country is A $ 3.2 billion (US $ 2.3 billion).
“We don’t put all our eggs in one basket,” Morrison told reporters in Sydney.
Health Secretary Greg Hunt said Novavax and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, made in the US and Europe, would complement Australian-made AstraZeneca and CSL products.
“That means that we are now in a very strong position with the portfolio of four different vaccines, two proteins, a viral vector and an MRMA, the Pfizer vaccine. This is innovative – the world has never had an MRMA vaccine.” “Hunt told Nine Network television.
Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca and Novavax vaccines are among the leading candidates in the global race for regulatory approval.
Should studies prove successful, Australia is expected to receive the first batches of the AstraZeneca vaccine in early 2021 and begin a mass rollout in March that will be completed by the end of the year.
When all four vaccines hit the market, Australia and its 26 million people will face overdoses, even if many of the candidates under development need two doses to be effective.
Australia has announced it will donate excess doses to Pacific Island countries and has pledged to spend around A $ 525 million to ensure the Pacific states and East Timor get full vaccination coverage.
Australia is the largest aid donor to the Pacific Islands and has tried to step up its engagement in recent months fearing that it may be overshadowed by Chinese aid and financial support.
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The announcement of the new planned vaccine purchases came as Australia had no cases of locally transmitted COVID-19 in the past 24 hours for the second time in a week. The country recorded the first day of no local cases since early June on Sunday.
Australia has reported just over 27,600 coronavirus cases and 907 deaths, far fewer than most other developed countries, thanks to extensive testing, contact tracing and bans.
As the number of national cases slowed to less than 10 per day, states and territories have reopened borders and eased various social distancing restrictions.
Qantas Airways said Thursday it would increase the number of flights between the states of New South Wales and Victoria after officials announced on Wednesday that they would lift the border restrictions later this month.
The national carrier will fly from the ten round-trip flights it currently operates each week between Sydney and Melbourne to more than 250 weekly flights between the two states. The Sydney-Melbourne route was one of the busiest in the world before the pandemic.
(This story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)