Australians will have another vaccine option after the pharmaceutical company Moderna announced it has signed a deal with the federal government to provide 25m doses of its mRNA-based vaccine to the nation.
The announcement was made overnight in a press release and has not yet been formally endorsed by the federal government. It is also subject to regulatory approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, but Moderna says it will lodge a submission shortly.
The company says 10m doses could arrive in Australia by the end of the year and a further 15m would arrive in 2022.
Stéphane Bancel, Moderna’s chief executive officer, said: “We appreciate the partnership and support from the government of Australia with this first supply agreement for doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and our variant booster candidates.
“As we seek to protect people around the world with our COVID-19 vaccine and potentially our variant booster candidates, we look forward to continuing discussions with Australia about establishing potential local manufacturing opportunities.”
Moderna will join the locally manufactured AstraZeneca vaccine and the Pfizer vaccine as the only Covid-19 vaccines in Australia. The federal government also has an agreement with Novovax but it is waiting on regulatory approvals.
AstraZeneca is being administered to over-50s through mass vaccination clinics and GPs, despite the fact that large numbers of people in priority cohorts including disability care residents are yet to be vaccinated.
Australia has bought an extra 20m Pfizer doses but an estimated 70% of the total order of 40m is expected to come in the final three months of the year.
Like the Pfizer/BioNTech shot, the Moderna vaccine uses mRNA technology that introduces genetic material containing the instructions to make the coronavirus’s spike protein into the body to elicit an immune response. Traditional vaccine approaches typically kickstart the immune system by exposing it to a killed or weakened part of the virus.
Clinical trial results of Moderna’s vaccine found it has 94% efficacy and nobody vaccinated in the 30,000-participant trial in the UK developed severe disease.