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Moderna to supply Australia with 25m doses of COVID-19 vaccine

This article was published on
May 13, 2021

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The Australian Government has confirmed it has secured 25 million doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, following an announcement from the company overnight. 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 emerging viral variants.

The Australian Government has confirmed it has secured 25 million doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, following an announcement from the company overnight. 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 emerging viral variants.

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Expert Comments: 

Dr Roger Lord

The announcement of an Australian supply agreement with Moderna for 25 million doses of its mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 is welcome news.

The agreement includes 10 million doses of the mRNA-1273.351 vaccine that is currently in phase 2 clinical trials and reportedly produces antibody responses against two COVID-19 variants of concern, B.1.351 (South Africa) and P.1 (Brazil).

The data for this trial has not yet been peer-reviewed but offers promise that the transmission of more virulent strains of the virus can be controlled effectively.

The additional features of mRNA-1273 may however have an undesired effect of further stalling Australia’s current COVID-19 vaccine rollout with the appearance of better protection compared to vaccines currently on offer.

Australians may become confused as to whether it is better to wait for a more effective vaccine or accept what is being offered now.

Additionally, very little data is available for any of the currently available COVID-19 vaccines on the rate of seroconversion (the development of specific antibodies in the blood serum as a result of immunisation).

If an individual fails to gain a protective immune response to one type of COVID-19 vaccine (e.g. AstraZeneca) will they be offered a second round of vaccination with another COVID-19 vaccine (e.g. Moderna) to see if an appropriate immune response can be generated?

Professor Bruce Thompson

The recent announcement of a new agreement for the supply of the Moderna vaccine is very welcome.

The agreement not only ensures current supply, it is also forward-looking by providing vaccines for the variants that are now appearing, for which existing vaccines don’t work as well.

This is smart!

But it also clearly highlights that the pandemic is going to be with us for some time, and the need to have rapid testing, better treatments, and stay ahead of the curve in regards to vaccination is crucial in managing COVID-19.

Dr Elizabeth Jackson

The new Moderna Covid-19 vaccine supply deal is important in the Australian government’s vaccine roll-out strategy; the introduction of this third offering (in addition to that of Pfizer and AstraZeneca) has critical supply chain and community uptake implications.  

Any medication is only effective once it has been taken by the patient in the right dose and at the right time. This can only be achieved with effective procurement, distribution, storage and administration processes in place.

Community uptake and government roll-out of Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines in Australia have been patchy and challenging to date. The Australian government’s purchase of 25 million doses of the Moderna vaccine is indeed good news but Moderna’s press release comes with an interesting caveat: “Purchase under this agreement is subject to regulatory approval of mRNA-1273 and booster vaccine candidates by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) of Australia. The Company expects to submit an application to the TGA shortly.

Given the challenges of the past year, it’s difficult to know whether to be excited or not.

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