The federal government has snapped up 25 million doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine as part of its strategy to give Australians access to a booster or variant vaccine.
The government said the US-based Moderna vaccine will provide more flexibility for the national vaccine rollout and secure early access to possible vaccinations for emerging COVID-19 variants.
As highlighted in the 2021-22 Budget, the government is also set to commence its approach to market for mRNA manufacturing capacity and is in talks with Moderna regarding the establishment of an onshore manufacturing facility.
The government’s official release says local manufacture would ensure a long-term supply of Moderna’s mRNA-based vaccines against COVID-19, including variants, and for potential future pandemics.
“This is the second messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine to be purchased by the government, providing access to the current Moderna vaccine or variant-specific versions of the vaccine developed by Moderna, to address longer term immunity or emerging viral variants in the first half of 2022,” it reads.
“To date, the Moderna vaccine has shown an overall vaccine efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19 of 94.1 per cent, and 100 per cent efficacy against severe COVID-19. It has also shown strong protection of 90 per cent efficacy against COVID-19 for at least six months after the second dose.”
Regulatory authorities that have approved and are using the Moderna vaccine so far include those in the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and Singapore.
In order for supply to commence in Australia, the vaccine will first need to be approved as safe and effective by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The government said it expects an application by Moderna to the TGA “shortly,” although it has not given any further information at this stage.
Australia currently has five agreements to secure more than 195 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines if they are shown to be safe and effective. Around $6 billion has been invested to support the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out.