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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Tuesday that the nation will be manufacturing a COVID-19 vaccine and giving it out for free to all citizens, reported Reuters. The country has made a deal with drugmaker AstraZeneca.
“Under this deal we have secured early access for every Australian,” Morrison said in an emailed statement acquired by Reuters.
“If this vaccine proves successful we will manufacture and supply vaccines straight away under our own steam and make it free for 25 million Australians.”
AstraZeneca's potential vaccine is popular around the world with Argentina and Mexico stating last week that they would produce it for much of Latin America.
Morrison, however, warned that there is no guarantee AstraZeneca’s candidate will work. However, the country has also signed a A$24.7 million ($17.9 million) deal with U.S. medical technology company Becton Dickinson for the purchase of 100 million needles and syringes. One thing is for sure, if that viable vaccine should arrive, the nation will be ready to distribute it.
Australia was once renown as a leader in fighting COVID-19. However, the past month has seen the nation suffer from a surge of infections. Still, at 24,000 cases and 438 deaths, the country is fairing much better than many other developed nations.
There are currently more than 160 vaccine candidates in pre-clinical and clinical trials, several of which are in Australia. Morrison, therefore, added that the country was not confining its search for a vaccine to AstraZeneca’s candidate.
Last Sunday, Health Minister Greg Hunt said the country was having several negotiations.
"We are in advanced negotiations with a range of different companies with regards to a vaccine," Hunt toldSky News on Sunday morning. "I am now on the basis of our best advice genuinely more optimistic. I think the work is moving closer to a vaccine."