Australia has struck supply and production agreements with pharmaceutical companies worth 1.7 billion Australian dollars (£930 million) over two potential Covid-19 vaccines, one developed in the UK.
Under the agreement, the University of Oxford in collaboration with AstraZeneca and Australia’s University of Queensland working with CSL will provide more than 84.8 million vaccine doses for Australia’s population of 26 million people, almost entirely manufactured in the Australian city of Melbourne, the government said.
Australians would have access to 3.8 million doses of the Oxford vaccine in January and February, it said.
Prime minister Scott Morrison said both vaccines would need to be proven safe and effective and meet all necessary regulatory requirements before being made available to the public. Any vaccine would be free to all Australians.
Meanwhile, Australia’s hot spot Victoria state has recorded its lowest count of new Covid-19 cases in more than 10 weeks.
The state reported 41 news cases and nine death in the latest 24-hour period on Monday.
That was the lowest infection tally since 37 were recorded on June 26 in the early days of the state’s second wave of infections.
The state on Sunday announced a slight easing of restrictions in Melbourne that began in early August, but the country’s second-largest city will remain in lockdown until at least October 26.
The new infections bring the 14-day average in Victoria to 96 a day.
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews said the average would have to be brought below 50 before restrictions can be relaxed.
“This is not about eradicating it,” Mr Andrews said.
“We will finish up with cases and outbreaks in 2021, but they’ll be of such low numbers that we can probably put the lid on those and not have to put restrictions back on.”