More details of the federal government's COVID-19 vaccine deals have been revealed with confirmation most Australians will still be waiting until mid-2021 even if the two candidates are approved.
The government announced $1.7 billion to support a 'web' of agreements involving CSL and AstraZeneca.
The bulk of the $1.7 billion, potentially around $1.5 billion, will go to support and procure the UQ vaccine as well as to fund CSL's capital requirements so that it can manufacture the AstraZeneca-Oxford candidate.
"The Australian Government will provide funding to support CSL’s readiness to manufacture AZD1222, thus expanding Australia’s on-shore COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing capabilities," said CSL in a statement.
"This funding will be used to establish at-risk components required to produce the commercial manufacture of a recombinant vector-based COVID19 vaccine, including the acquisition of specialised equipment, recruitment, training and redeployment of personnel and retooling and reconfiguration of existing manufacturing facilities to Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) standards."
At a media conference in Canberra yesterday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Health Minister Greg Hunt said Australia will be amongst the first countries to access a vaccine if the candidates are approved.
The US, UK, Japan and South Korea are amongst countries anticipating access to a vaccine before the end of 2020. They have agreements that guarantee the delivery of significant vaccine dose numbers, if they are approved, before the end of 2020.
CSL said the first doses of the UQ vaccine are "scheduled for release from mid-2021 following successful clinical trials."
CSL said the first doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford candidate it has been contracted to manufacture are "planned for release to Australia early next year". It said it will schedule production "around" the UQ vaccine.
CSL will produce the bulk product of the AstraZeneca-Oxford candidate at the Behring facility but it will be finished at another one of the company's Melbourne-based facilities.
Department of Health secretary Professor Brendan Murphy recently told the COVID-19 Senate inquiry it would take CSL a "very short period of time...it would probably be some weeks" to repurpose a facility to manufacture the AstraZeneca-Oxford candidate.
In a statement yesterday, AstraZeneca also said CSL will produce the first doses of its vaccine in early 2021 and the remaining "doses over the following months."
"Final delivery is due by September 2021," it said.
Country president of AstraZeneca Australia and New Zealand, Liz Chatwin, said, “Further to our agreement with Government, we have finalised arrangements with CSL to manufacture approximately 30 million doses of AZD1222 in Australia, in addition to 3.8 million doses sourced from overseas.
“Approximately 34 million doses will be supplied to the Australian Government, reflecting AstraZeneca’s global commitment to ensure broad and equitable access to this vaccine against COVID-19, at no profit during the pandemic.”
If the candidate is approved, the 3.8 million doses "sourced from overseas" are expected to be the first distribute and administered in Australia.