Australia has ordered 25 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine being developed by Oxford University in partnership with pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca, the country’s prime minister said.
Scott Morrison promised to make the vaccine “as mandatory as you can” in an interview with Melbourne’s 3AW radio station, before touring AstraZeneca’s laboratory in Sydney.
He told reporters at the facility: “Today is a day of hope and Australia needs hope, the world needs hope, when it comes to this coronavirus.
“And should we be in a position for the trials to be successful, we would hope that this would be made available early next year. If it can be done sooner than that, great.”
In another radio interview on Wednesday, Mr Morrison said he had spoken with French leader Emmanuel Macron recently about how the AstraZeneca vaccine was “one of the best prospects in the world today”.
The British-Swedish company was one of the biggest fallers as the FTSE 100 closed in the red on Tuesday, and is the largest company listed on the London Stock Exchange by market capitalisation.
The UK has secured up to 100 million doses of the vaccine, which has reached phase three trials in Brazil and South Africa. Preliminary results suggest it is safe and induces an immune reaction.
It is one of six different coronavirus vaccine candidates in development that the UK has access to, across four different types, representing some 340 million doses.
Priority groups such as frontline health workers, those with serious diseases, the elderly and ethnic minorities are first in line to receive a jab, should a vaccine be approved.