Every Australian will get a free dose of the COVID-19 vaccine

Every Australian will get a free dose of the COVID-19 vaccine under a new deal secured by the government.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed an agreement was reached with British pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca to secure 25 million free dose of the vaccine being developed by Oxford University if it proves successful in human trials.

If successful, Australia would manufacture and supply vaccines on home soil.

And the vaccine would be “as mandatory as you can make it”, the PM said.

The vaccine could be made available by early next year, Mr Morrison said.

“This is one of the most promising and most advanced vaccine developments anywhere in the world and we have been working on this for some time,” Mr Morrison told Today.

“There are about 160 different projects around the world and Professor Brendan Murphy is leading a team of experts to identify and work through the other promising options.

“And of course we have the University of Queensland option, which is not quite as advanced as what is happening with Oxford, but that is making good progress.”

Health authorities would “work quickly” to roll out the jab – known as the Oxford vaccine – first to those most susceptible to COVID-19.

“The hope is we can get it to everybody as quickly as possible,” Mr Morrison said.

“But you are obviously going to deal with those who are most vulnerable and the medical experts will set that queue up, I’m sure.

“But they will move very quickly.”

The vaccine would need to be given to 95 per cent of the population to make it effective, Mr Morrison said, adding “we would expect it to be as mandatory as you can possibly make it”.

“There are always exemptions for any vaccine on medical grounds, but that should be the only basis,” he told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell.

“We’re talking about a pandemic that has destroyed the global economy and taken the lives of hundreds of thousands all around the world and over 450 Australians here.

“We need the most extensive and comprehensive response to this to get Australia back to normal.”

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the vaccine would give all Australians “the prospect of getting out of this”.

“There’s obviously more science to go but we’re in a position that we can provide for and protect all Australians, assuming that the trials are as successful as they appear to be,” Mr Hunt told 2GB’s Ben Fordham.

“We will be providing it to the whole of the Australian population for free.”

A medical expert panel has been appointed to determine who would get the vaccine first, lead by Professor Murphy.

People over 60, as well as those with asthma or heart disease, transplant recipients, and cancer patients will be prioritised in receiving the vaccine.

“There’s no hidden agenda here,” Mr Hunt said.

“Our goal is for the whole population and your priority, naturally, would start with the elderly and the health workers and those with special needs but we will be getting it out as quickly as possible to as many people as possible.”

AstraZeneca has signed a deal to produce up to two billion free dose of the vaccine, currently in its third phase of testing at the university.

Researchers hope the vaccine can be ready by October, and, if all goes well, Australians may have access to the vaccine by early 2021.

But “if it’s available earlier we’ll be in a position to develop it” Mr Hunt said.

It would be manufactured through CSL’s Parkville plant in Melbourne which could help roll out a vaccine to supply Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific, Mr Hunt said.

the news is originally published at 9 news.

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