Health Minister Greg Hunt says the government hopes Moderna will be candidate for on-shore mRNA coronavirus vaccine production after announcing Australia has purchased 25 million vaccines from the biotech company.
Up to 10 million were expected to be delivered in 2021 and 15 million during 2022, Mr Hunt said, serving two purposes as part of the national vaccine rollout.
"Firstly, as a reserve supply for this year if other elements of the supply chain were to run into any challenges," Mr Hunt told reporters in Canberra on Thursday morning.
People aged under 50 are set to receive the Moderna vaccine.
The deal with Moderna is also about providing Australia with a booster and variant strategy in 2022, when the Australians who received doses in the early phases are expected to need vaccine boosters.
Moderna is the "most advanced' vaccine on the market in terms of capacity to adapt to booster requirements, he said.
Industry Minister Christian Porter is expected to shortly announce more details about the government's plans for domestic mRNA vaccine production, which was revealed in the budget.
Modern has confirmed it is in active discussions with the Australian government about the possibility of production in Australia of their own mRNA vaccine.
"Our hope is that we will have at least one, if not more than one, manufacturing operation in Australia. I won't make a guarantee on that, but I am confident that over the future period, we will have mRNA production in Australia," Mr Hunt said.
Earlier today, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it was important to prepare for possible variants of the disease.
"We're now well into the phase of dealing with what's coming next because the pandemic is not going anywhere," he told Perth radio 6PR on Thursday.
The vaccine and booster shot are still subject to approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration before they can be used in Australia.
Moderna is an mRNA - or messenger RNA - vaccine produced overseas. Australia does not have the domestic capacity to manufacture the jab.
But the US biotech company has expressed interest in setting up an Australian base.
"We look forward to continuing discussions with Australia about establishing potential local manufacturing opportunities," Moderna chief executive Stephane Bancel said.
In the meantime, the federal government is focused on rolling out the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines.
More than 2.8 million vaccine doses have been administered across the country.
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