Australians would be among the first to have access to a COVID-19 vaccine, under a deal reached between the government and UK-based pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.
A letter of intent between the government and the company has been signed that would give Australians access to a vaccine under development by Oxford University if trials prove it is safe and effective.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison will announce the deal on Wednesday, which includes a $25 million contract with another company to supply needles and syringes.
The Oxford University vaccine candidate is currently in phase two and three trials, and results published in medical journal The Lancet last month showed no early safety concerns and also produced a strong immune response within 28 days after the vaccine had been administered.
Its progress is being watched closely all over the world, with the vaccine candidate in the most advanced stage of testing among the 30 vaccine candidates that have reached human trials.
The trials of the vaccine are expected to continue late this year and early next year, with manufacturing of the vaccine possible next year.
Australian leaders have said relaxing COVID-19 restrictions, like opening the border for international visitors, depend on a successful vaccine, and on the weekend Health Minister Greg Hunt said he felt "cautiously, but genuinely, optimistic" about the prospect of a vaccine.
AstraZeneca and the government have signed a letter of intent, and a final formal agreement is still to come, which would include distribution and how much it would cost.
"The Oxford vaccine is one of the most advanced and promising in world, and under this deal we have secured early access for every Australian," Mr Morrison said.
"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."
If it is found to be successful, the deal would allow the vaccine to be manufactured in Australia, with local biotech company CSL in discussions with the government and AstraZeneca.
CSL released a statement saying its priority is the University of Queensland vaccine candidate, but it's assessing whether it is possible to provide local manufacturing support to the Oxford vaccine if it proves successful.
"We are assessing the viability of options ranging from the fill and finish of bulk product imported to Australia through to manufacture of the vaccine candidate under licence," a statement from the company said.
"There are a number of technical issues to work through and discussions are ongoing."
On Wednesday the government will also release its COVID-19 Vaccine and Treatment strategy, which covers research and development, purchase and manufacturing, international partnerships and regulation and safety.
Health secretary Brendan Murphy is leading an advisory group on vaccines, which met for the first time earlier this week.
The entire vaccine strategy will be worth billions of dollars, according to the government.
The government is also looking at measures to ensure countries in the Pacific have access to a vaccine, such as extending commitments to the World Health Organisation's COVAX Facility.
Labor has criticised the government as being too slow to sign such deals for potential vaccines.
On Tuesday shadow health minister Chris Bowen said Australia was "behind the game" when countries such as the UK had already signed five such agreements for access to potential vaccines and the United States six.
Four-hundred-million doses of the Oxford vaccine have already been ordered by governments around the world.
"It would be unconscionable to have a vaccine developed and being distributed around the world and our government not having taken the advanced steps necessary to get supply," he said.
"It is incumbent on the government to take more steps - urgently - to ensure that we have those advanced supply agreements in place, and also that we're better funding research in Australia."
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