The head of an international group coordinating coronavirus vaccines has warned against "vaccine nationalism", saying she fears for what happens once a vaccine is found.
"As soon as there's a vaccine I fear that we may not be quite as all in it together as we have been," Jane Halton, a former top bureaucrat in Australia who now chairs the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation, headquartered in Norway, said.
Ms Halton, speaking at the National Press Club Canberra, said it was crucial that people most vulnerable to coronavirus received a vaccine first.
"This is hard because it's going to require people to cooperate, and the urge for domestic priority I think will be very significant," she said, urging countries to sharing any vaccine with others around the world.
The World Health Organisation would have "a crucial role to play in being very clear about who should get this vaccine first", she said.
"What we are seeking to do is make sure that production is globally distributed, because I worry about vaccine nationalism - and so global distribution with enough people who can produce should give us the capacity to service the needs of the world. But we're not there yet, it's a big negotiation."
Ms Halton also hit out at people who refuse to vaccinate, saying she strongly opposed the term "conscientious objectors" when applied to vaccination.
"Unless you've got a good health reason, you're a vaccine refuser," she said, urging governments to take action against people who refused, such as denying childcare places and making it a prerequisite for professional sports.
"We've seen a couple of prominent cases in the footballing world just at the moment," she said.
"Forget the no jab-no play for kids, it's no jab- no play for adults, and I would support that.
"There are some people for a variety of health related reasons who cannot be vaccinated. Everybody else as far as I'm concerned should step up and do the right thing."
But she said Australians were good adopters of vaccines - as evidenced by the current shortage in the flu vaccine
A coronavirus vaccine would cost "tens of billions of dollars" to buy and distribute, she said.
Mr Halton's coalition, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has so far spent $40 million on nine vaccine candidates, including one being developed in Queensland, and is negotiating global access for any that are successful.
"We want as many shots on goal as we can get," Ms Halton said.
"If we have three or four viable vaccines, the risk of vaccine nationalism decreases, and the speed with which we can produce a vaccine increases."
Ms Halton also urged caution as the economy opens up, saying she was concerned at the lack of social distancing.
"I would remind people that it's not all good now," she said.
"I do think the risk for us now is complacency .... I'm worried about it and what we'll see is little spikes and I hope that will remind people."
But people should also be able to return to work, including across state borders, she said, questioning state border closures.
"I'm personally not convinced that our internal borders are the right way to manage our risks."
Asked about suggestions people would need to be deliberately infected to test whether a vaccine works, Ms Halton said the question was hypothetical given vaccines were still in pre-clinical and animal stages.
But there was still "lots of virus running around the world", and once human trials began, "I cannot see a situation where we can't find places where we can do those sorts of trials in the real world", she said.
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