AZ-CSL licensing deal could be the most likely

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Australia may rely on a combination of AstraZeneca and CSL to produce and provide early supply to a COVID-19 vaccine.

The federal government is in discussions with the companies about a deal under which AstraZeneca will license the investigative vaccine (AZD1222) it is developing with The University of Oxford to CSL.

CSL would manufacture the adenovirus viral vector vaccine at one of its Melbourne-based facilities. AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot - an Australian citizen - was recently appointed to the board of CSL.

The deal is likely to include the supply of a vaccine, if approved, to New Zealand and other countries in the region.

The Australian company last week confirmed it was "exploring ways" to manufacture one of the vaccines in development overseas. It is not clear how long it would take CSL to repurpose a facility to produce AZD1222 and whether it could produce the University of Queensland's (UQ) investigative vaccine at the same time.

CSL is supporting the development of UQ's recombinant vaccine and it remains the company's priority.

At a press conference earlier this week, Commonwealth acting chief medical officer Professor Paul Kelly described AstraZeneca's AZD1222 as one of the leading vaccine candidates.

The company has completed multiple advance supply agreements and licensed the vaccine to other manufacturers and countries, including South Korea and India.