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Australians may have to wait an extra year for COVID-19 vaccine

Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks with an analytical chemist during a visit to AstraZeneca in Sydney, Wednesday, August 19, 2020 Source: AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

Australia's federal budget forecasts assume there will be a widespread vaccination program by the end of 2021 - but there is no guarantee this will happen

Federal cabinet minister Karen Andrews has raised doubts over how quickly a COVID-19 vaccine could be approved, manufactured and rolled out in Australia, if the two leading candidates fall through.

Forecasts in the federal budget released this month are based on a coronavirus vaccine being in wide use by the end of next year, with physical distancing restrictions continuing until a vaccine is available.


 

Highlights

  • Australians could be forced to wait an extra year for a COVID-19 vaccine, if the two leading candidates are unsuccessful
  • There are 165 other vaccines trials globally
  • Another kind of vaccine that is showing promising signs, is what's called Messenger R-N-A

 

Last week, trials for the AztraZeneca and Oxford University vaccine recommenced in the United States -- after being suspended for six weeks. If all goes well, 3.8 million doses could be available as early as next year.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt is optimistic about the development

"We are in a fortunate position. We have a protein-based medicine in terms of AstraZeneca. That remains on track for first quarter commencement."

But there is no guarantee that will happen. 

Sanjaya Senanayake, an infectious diseases specialist at the Australian National University, says there is lots of uncertainty.

"We don't know which vaccines are going to work even the AstraZeneca one. It's in its phase three trials, but we don't know if the phase three trials will show that it is effective in the end"

Physical distancing restrictions are to remain in place until a vaccine is available.

Australia's Industry, Science and Technology Minister, Karen Andrews, has told the A-B-C that although vaccine rollout may take longer than anticipated, work will be done as quickly as possible.

 

 

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