(Australian Associated Press)
Australia has signed onto a global coronavirus agreement in the hope of gaining early access to dozens of potential vaccines.
The deal guarantees Australia access to enough vaccine doses for up to 50 per cent of the population.
Australia has committed an initial $123 million to be part of the purchasing pool.
“It means that we’ll have access to any of potentially dozens and dozens of different vaccines that are being developed,” federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Wednesday.
“Australia has contributed, along with over 80 other countries, to have that right.”
The deal is in addition to agreements Australia has already struck with vaccine developers at Oxford University and the University of Queensland.
“It’s about making sure that we have additional protection, additional access, additional support,” Mr Hunt said.
“It’s also a facility which means that the developing nations, whether it’s in Africa or Asia or Latin America, will be guaranteed access.
“And that protects Australia by protecting the world, as well as doing the right humanitarian thing.”
The COVAX facility was established by the World Health Organisation and other international agencies.
It aims to ensure equitable access to safe and effective coronavirus vaccines.
This is Australia’s second commitment to the facility after donating $80 million in August to provide doses to developing countries.
As well as allocations for individual countries, 10 per cent of manufactured doses will be retained to respond to sporadic outbreaks across the globe.