The Australian Government has joined the COVAX facility, enabling the purchase of COVID-19 vaccine doses as they become available.

The COVAX facility provides access to a large portfolio of COVID-19 vaccine candidates and manufacturers across the world.

This agreement opens up additional supplies for Australia, from which we could access vaccines for up to 50 per cent of our population under a two dose treatment requirement.

Under the agreement, Australia will commit an initial $123.2 million to be part of the purchasing mechanism of the facility, meaning we can receive offers to purchase vaccines when they become available.

Purchases of vaccine doses will be negotiated as the potential vaccines are proven to meet safety and effectiveness standards.

This investment is in addition to the agreements with Oxford University/AstraZeneca and University of Queensland/CSL for supply of vaccines, opening up additional supply options for Australia.

Minister for Health, Greg Hunt said participating in COVAX is an important part of Australia’s strategy to secure early access to any safe and effective vaccines.

“A COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to protect the Australian community,” Minister Hunt said.

“Whoever finds a COVID-19 vaccine must share it. Australia signing up to the COVAX Facility is an important part of our commitment to this principle.”

“Being a part of COVAX means we’re giving Australians the best chance of accessing a safe and effective vaccine, but also our neighbours in the Pacific and Southeast Asia, and partners overseas,” Minister Hunt said.

Any COVID-19 vaccine doses purchased on behalf of Australians will have to meet the rigorous safety and quality standards of the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said it is in Australia’s – and our region’s interests – to support the facility.

“Access to vaccines will play a critical role in the economic recovery of our region from this pandemic,” Senator Payne said.

“Now more than ever, we must come together as global community to ensure that our response leaves no one behind.”

“The facility is a major endeavour, but together we can work to end the acute phase of the pandemic by the end of 2021.”

The COVAX facility was established by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance as part of an international vaccine partnership with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, the World Health Organization and other organisations.

It aims to ensure that there is equitable access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, when available, through facilitating purchases, funding access for developing countries, and allowing countries to trade or donate doses.

This is Australia’s second commitment to the COVAX facility, with $80 million donated in August to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment – a collaborative effort to provide doses to developing countries, enabling more countries to protect their most vulnerable groups.

Australia’s contribution supports a global coordination effort to ensure equitable and affordable access to COVID-19 vaccines, which is essential to reinvigorate the global economy.

Eighty self-financing countries, including Australia, have joined the COVAX Facility and a further 92 countries are eligible to access vaccines through the Advance Market Commitment.

In addition to individual country allocations, 10 per cent of manufactured doses will be retained by the COVAX facility to address sporadic outbreaks and for humanitarian use.