Australia has announced that it will make free vaccines for the coronavirus available for its residents throughout 2021, provided the trials prove successful.
In a statement released on Sunday, the Australian government announced that based on the outcome of the ongoing trials, the vaccines would be progressively made available across 2021.
The announcement comes following a $1.7 billion agreement with pharmaceutical giants AstraZeneca and CSL/Seqirus, which would see Australia produce vaccines locally based on research done by scientists at the University of Oxford and the University of Queensland respectively.
The Oxford vaccine is currently in a phase 3 trial of 30,000 people, and preliminary results are expected in December.
On the other hand, the University of Queensland vaccine is in its early, phase 1 clinical trial, on a small and controlled group of people.
If it successfully brings about an immune response, it will enter phase 2 of the trials, on a few hundred people across several demographics.
If vaccines formulated by the University of Oxford prove to be successful in the trials, 33.8 million doses will be manufactured by Australia, which will be made available to the people from the beginning of 2021.
Similarly, if the University of Queensland vaccines complete a successful trial phase, 51 million doses will be produced and distributed mid-2021.
It is expected that vulnerable people and front-line workers during the pandemic will be provided with the vaccines first.
Speaking on the vaccines, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said both vaccines would have to be proven safe and meet regulatory requirements before being made available to the public.
He also reiterated his commitment to helping Pacific and South-East Asian countries have access to the vaccines produced in Australia.