The Australian Government has secured 25 million double doses of the Moderna vaccine and is in talks with the company to establish a national mRNA production facility.
“Moderna, according to our advice, is the most advanced vaccine product in terms of its ability to adapt to booster and variant requirements,” said the Minister of Health. Greg Hunt told reporters..
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the new vaccine was 94.1% overall effective against symptomatological COVID-19 and 100% effective in severe cases.
“It also showed strong protection of 90% efficacy against COVID-19 for at least 6 months after the second dose.” Morrison said..
The first 10 million doses are expected to arrive by the end of 2021. The remaining 15 million doses will arrive by 2022 and will be shots designed to treat the mutant strain.
Currently, Pfizer is available to those under the age of 50 and AstraZeneca is available to those over the age of 50. Hunt said he wanted to vaccinate “especially over 70” as soon as possible.
Professor Brendan Murphy said he believes there is no “reason for not being able to mix” different vaccines, despite the lack of study data.
“In the UK, there are several trials examining the first dose of AstraZeneca and the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna,” Murphy said. “There is no scientific reason why one cannot boost and later vaccinate another. In fact, there may be some benefits to doing so.”
“This investment assumes it’s possible, and there’s no reason to think it’s impossible,” he said.
Murphy said the additional modelna vaccine would not change the current strategy of continuing the deployment of Pfizer and AstraZeneca.
Hunt also confirmed that the government was in talks with Modana to set up a local manufacturing facility.
“Our hope is to have at least one or less manufacturing business in Australia,” Hunt said. “I’m not guaranteeing that, but I’m sure Australia will produce mRNA in the future.”
Murphy said Australia is unlikely to start producing local mRNA by the end of the year.
“I think it will be sometime next year before the mRNA vaccine is produced here. As Minister Hunt said, our main vaccine strategy never depends on this,” he said. Murphy said. “MRNA vaccine technology has much broader potential than COVID vaccines.”
Australia is currently ordering more than 195 million COVID-19 vaccines through five different agreements.