A coronavirus vaccine set to be rolled out in Australia in January will require two injections and is expected to provide immunity for several years, health minister Greg Hunt said today.
The federal government has signed a deal to buy a vaccine being developed at Oxford University and will also produce one being developed at the University of Queensland if they are deemed safe.
In total the government wants to roll out 80million doses next year, including 3.8million for vulnerable people and healthcare workers in January and February.
A chemist is pictured at AstraZeneca's headquarters in Sydney on August 19. Australians are set to get early access to 3.8million doses of the University of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine as early as January 2021 if it is deemed safe
Mr Hunt today revealed that both vaccines will require two injections to be effective.
'It's likely that both vaccines will require what's called a double shot, or an initial vaccination and a booster approximately a month later,' he told reporters.
He said they will likely provide immunity to coronavirus for several years.
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'The best advice that we have - and it's not determined yet - is that there is likely to be multiyear protection,' he said.
'Nobody can say whether it will be lifetime.'
Researchers at the University of Queensland are in early controlled-group stages in the testing of their vaccine - known as phase one - while the University of Oxford scientists are at the more advanced phase-three stage involving 30,000 people.
Once approved, the vaccines will be rolled out to Australians who want one for free. A vaccine will not be compulsory.
'Australians will gain free access to a COVID-19 vaccine in 2021 if trials prove successful,' Mr Morrison said.
'By securing the production and supply agreements, Australians will be among the first in the world to receive a safe and effective vaccine, should it pass late-stage testing.
'There are no guarantees that these vaccines will prove successful, however, the agreement puts Australia at the top of the queue if our medical experts give the vaccines the green light.'
Prime Minister Scott Morrison at AstraZeneca headquarters in Sydney in August. He said Australia would be the 'first in the world' to gain access to a 'safe and effective' vaccine