House debates

Wednesday, 28 October 2020

Questions without Notice

COVID-19: Vaccine

2:26 pm

Photo of Dave SharmaDave Sharma (Wentworth, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Health. Will the minister update the House on how the Morrison government is supporting the health of Australians by investing in critical COVID-19 research and vaccines to assist in our road to recovery?

Photo of Greg HuntGreg Hunt (Flinders, Liberal Party, Minister for Health) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Wentworth. One of the things that have been incredibly important during the course of COVID-19 has been to look at what's happening in Australia and to look at what's happening around the world. What we see in Australia is that in the last 24 hours there were three community transmission cases. Globally, we've seen 459,000 cases and the seventh consecutive day of over 400,000 cases. What that shows is that the disease not only continues abroad but is accelerating: prior to this week there had been one week where there was one day of over 400,000 cases. So the challenge facing the world is greater than ever. Australia, obviously, through its containment strategy, has been deeply successful. We've had our challenges. We've had our agonies. We've had great loss. But by comparison, we've had an extraordinary outcome.

At the same time as the containment strategy there is also the capacity, which is fundamental to what Australia is seeking to do. Right at the heart of that capacity-building approach is what we do with vaccines. All up, Australia is investing approximately $2.3 billion in vaccine acquisition, vaccine research and therapeutic and treatment research. In particular, with regard to vaccines, we're investing over $1.7 billion in our two lead vaccine candidates at this point in time, the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine and the University of Queensland molecular clamp developed here in Australia. Both vaccines will be largely delivered through production at CSL's facility in Melbourne, which is an exceptionally important step for Australia. In relation to the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, there have been very positive reports this week of strong T-cell and antibody response to the vaccine. That's cause for hope for Australia and it's cause for hope for the world. This is a vaccine on which we were fortunate, on the advice of the medical expert panel led by Professor Murphy and Professor Paul Kelly with some of Australia's finest experts, to have made what appears to have been the right choice.

There are no guarantees, but this week's results, coming out of phase 3 trials, are deeply important. It means that we are on track for first vaccines to be delivered in the first quarter of 2021. Equally, the results coming out of the early phase trials in relation to the molecular clamp are also very positive—good T-cell and good antibody results, as the Prime Minister heard on his visit. So the vaccine story is one where we are giving real and genuine hope to Australian families. (Time expired)