Australia Okays $1.2 Billion Funding for Two Potential Covid-19 Vaccines

Australia's second-most-populous state has been the epicentre of a second wave, now accounting for about 75% of the country's 26,320 cases and 90% of its 762 deaths.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that Australians could be some of the first in the world to receive the vaccines.

"Australians will gain free access to a COVID-19 vaccine in 2021 if trials prove successful", Morrison said in a Monday statement.

The University is now undertaking a Phase 1 clinical study to assess safety and the immune response generated in healthy volunteers.

The federal government has nailed down two possible vaccine sources with supply and production agreements with pharmaceutical companies worth $1.7 billion.

Australians would have access to 3.8 million doses of the University of Oxford vaccine in January and February, it said.

"For the time being, the further recruitment of the candidates for the trials for the Oxford vaccine is on hold because we are waiting for the approval for safety of the first 100 participants recruited till now from the Data Safety and Monitoring Board".

First doses of that vaccine are scheduled for release in early 2021, depending on the results of the latest human trials.

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Once developed, the production and marketing of the vaccine will be administered by the Serum Institute of India (SII) in Pune, one of the largest vaccine producers in the country.

'CSL has been working at pace to respond to the pandemic and has invested significant resources in the rapid development and large-scale manufacture of UQ-CSL V451, along with a number of other therapeutic programs, ' the company pointed out.

Phase 1 clinical trials for the UQ vaccine began in mid-July in Brisbane.

AstraZeneca's vaccine, which is in late-stage development, is seen as a frontrunner in the global race to deliver an effective vaccine to combat the virus.

It's thought that both of the vaccines are likely to require two doses for each person - an initial dose and then a booster.

Health Minister Greg Hunt also welcomed the agreement, noting that any vaccine would undergo rigorous testing before being rolled out.

Health officials are discussing who will receive the first doses if trials are successful, Morrison will say.

"Acknowledging that CSL is the only company in Australia with manufacturing facilities capable of producing this vaccine, we thank the Australian Government for their support, ensuring Australia has access to onshore COVID-19 vaccine production and supply".

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