Australia has secured 25 million does of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine, the US-based biotechnology company says.
The supply agreement includes two lots, one which protects against the “ancestral” strain of the deadly illness and another which is an updated variant booster jab.
The first, of 10 million doses, will be delivered in 2021 and the second, of 15 million doses, will be delivered in 2022.
“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,” CEO Stephane Bancel said in a statement published late Tuesday in the US.
Both the mRNA-1273 vaccine and the booster vaccine candidate are subject to the approval of Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration before they can be used in the community.
The TGA has already approved the use of the Pfizer and Aztrazeneca vaccines, which are now being rolled out around the country.
Moderna previously announced it plans to open an office in Australia in 2021.
“We look forward to continuing discussions with Australia about establishing potential local manufacturing opportunities,” Mr Bancel said.
It comes as the federal government faces criticism over delays to the vaccine rollout and missed targets.
The federal budget, which was handed down on Tuesday night, made the assumption that a population-wide program will be in place by the end of 2021.
However, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has likewise stressed this assumption is not a policy commitment.
“That is not a policy statement nor is it a policy commitment of the government,” Mr Morrison told parliament on Wednesday.
Labor has accused the government of incompetence over the pace of the vaccine rollout and its management of quarantine.
“This has been a shambles from the beginning. All of this over promising and underdelivering,” Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers told reporters on Wednesday.
The federal budget outlined no new funds for purpose-built quarantine facilities like one recently proposed in Victoria – beyond an already announced expansion at Howard Springs in the Northern Territory.
– Additional reporting by Tom Stayner.