Australia has locked in an extra 25 million doses of the mRNA Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, the government announced on Thursday, also noting that domestic manufacturing of the mRNA-based vaccine remained a possibility.
The government’s agreement with Moderna will include 10 million doses this year, and an additional 15 million vaccine doses of its variant booster in 2022.
A complete course of this COVID-19 vaccination is likely to be two doses, given 28 days apart.
In a joint statement from prime minister Scott Morrison, Health minister Greg Hunt and the Industry, Science and technology minister Christian Porter, the government said the deal would further diversify Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine portfolio.
“To date, the Moderna vaccine has shown an overall vaccine efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19 of 94.1%, and 100% efficacy against severe COVID-19.
“It has also shown strong protection of 90% efficacy against COVID-19 for at least six months after the second dose,” the statement said.
The government also noted that the Moderna vaccine has already been approved by a number of leading regulatory health authorities around the world. It is successfully being used in the COVID-19 vaccination programs in the United Kingdom, Canada, the European Union, the United States and Singapore.
The Australian government’s decision to enter a contract with Moderna for more COVID-19 vaccine doses follows the recommendation of the 13-member group advising the government on vaccine purchases, the Science and Industry Technical Advisory Group.
“Supply in Australia will only commence should the vaccine be approved as safe and effective by Australia’s regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). An application by Moderna to the TGA is expected shortly.”
The government’s budget on Tuesday confirmed that Australia would be approaching the market for domestic mRNA manufacturing capacity, and that conversations with Moderna to deliver this were still on the table. It said that about $6 billion has already been invested to support Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine roll-out.
“The government remains in discussions with Moderna in relation to establishing a manufacturing facility in Australia for mRNA vaccines,” the statement said.
“Onshore manufacturing would ensure a secure, long-term supply of Moderna’s mRNA-based vaccines against COVID-19, including variants, and for potential future pandemics.”
A total of 195 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for Australia have been secured so far in five separate deals brokered by the commonwealth.
“The Moderna vaccine diversifies Australia’s supply of COVID-19 vaccines, provides more flexibility for the national vaccine rollout, and secures early access to possible vaccinations for emerging COVID-19 variants of concern circulating around the world,” the statement said.