The Federal Government has signed an agreement with drug company AstraZeneca to ensure Australians will be among the first countries in the world to access a promising Covid-19 vaccine currently being developed by Oxford University researchers.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the vaccine could be available early next year and would be free.
For the vaccine to work it would have to be taken up by about 95 per cent of the population, prompting Morrison to speculate it would be “mandatory as you can possibly make it” for all Australians if proved safe to use.
“There are always exemptions for any vaccine on medical grounds but that should be the only basis,” he told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell.
“I mean we’re talking about a pandemic that has destroyed you know, the global economy and taken the lives of hundreds of thousands all around the world and over 450 Australians here.
“We need the most extensive and comprehensive response to this to get Australia back to normal.”
Morrison told news.com.au the government will make more than 25 million doses available free of charge to cover every Australian as soon as the drug is available.
“The Oxford vaccine is one of the most advanced and promising in the world, and under this deal we have secured early access for every Australian,” he said.
“However there is no guarantee that this, or any other, vaccine will be successful, which is why we are continuing our discussions with many parties around the world while backing our own researchers at the same time to find a vaccine.”