Supply secured as country hits national dose record

Australian government enters supply agreement with Moderna for 25 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine

The Australian Government has secured 25 million doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to “diversify our vaccine portfolio” as well as provide access to a booster or variant vaccine should this be required in the future, said Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt in a recent statement.

This includes 10 million doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine to be delivered in 2021 and 15 million doses of Moderna’s updated variant booster vaccine candidate to be delivered in 2022.

Purchase under this agreement is subject to regulatory approval of both vaccine candidates by the TGA, said Moderna.

It is the second mRNA vaccine to be purchased by the Government, the first being the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

As confirmed in the 2021-22 Budget, the Government added it will commence an approach to market for mRNA manufacturing capacity in Australia.

The Government also remains in discussions with Moderna in relation to establishing a manufacturing facility in Australia for mRNA vaccines.

“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,” said Minister Hunt’s office.

“We appreciate the partnership and support from the government of Australia with this first supply agreement for doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and our variant booster candidates,” said Stéphane Bancel, Chief Executive Officer of Moderna.

“As we seek to protect people around the world with our COVID-19 vaccine and potentially our variant booster candidates, we look forward to continuing discussions with Australia about establishing potential local manufacturing opportunities.”

A complete course of Moderna’s vaccination is likely to be two doses given 28 days apart.

To date, the Moderna vaccine has shown an overall vaccine efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19 of 94.1% in Phase 3 clinical trials, and 100% efficacy against severe COVID-19. It has also shown 90% efficacy against COVID-19 for at least six months after the second dose.

Meanwhile Minister Hunt praised Australians for stepping forward for the over-50s vaccination program.

On Monday, he said Australia had reached 3,100,137 vaccinations around the nation.

Over 436,000 of these were administered in the last week, which Minister Hunt said was “a significant national record”.

“Our case load is zero cases of community transmission Australia wide, that’s the 87th day of zero cases this year,” he said in a press conference.

“It is important to look around the world, where we saw 572,000 cases yesterday and agonisingly over 9,900 lives lost. In India alone we’ve seen an average over the last seven days of 340,000 cases and approximately 4000 lives lost per day – an almost unimaginable impact.

“We’re not immune, it is so fundamental to protect Australians by giving them the opportunity to get vaccinated and encouraging as many Australians as possible to come forward for vaccination.”

The rise in vaccination numbers comes after dose capacity was doubled or in some cases tripled for general practices depending on practice allocation effective immediately from 5 May.

A new mass vaccination hub also opened its doors in Sydney last week.

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