House debates

Thursday, 12 November 2020

Questions without Notice

COVID-19: Vaccine

2:23 pm

Photo of Fiona MartinFiona Martin (Reid, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Health. Will the minister outline how the Morrison government's leadership in securing a COVID-19 vaccine has assisted in keeping Australian lives and livelihoods safe during the coronavirus pandemic?

2:24 pm

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

I want to thank the member for Reid, a practising psychologist for almost 20 years with a deep focus on mental health and somebody who has witnessed the challenges that Australians have faced, not just with their health but with their mental health, during this, the year of COVID-19.

Today is an important step forward not just with regard to health but also mental health, with a fourth day out of five of zero cases of community transmission nationwide. This is an immensely important step on the road to having Australia back to not just COVID-normal but normal. At the same time, we see abroad another 24 hours with over 600,000 cases and, agonisingly, the worst day ever for loss of life from COVID-19, with over 10,000 lives lost for the first time. Against that background, we recognise that, no matter what we do with containment in Australia, ultimately a vaccine must be required not just for Australia but for around the world. The work we have done as a nation is helping Australia to lead internationally in regard to the development, distribution and acquisition of vaccines.

With regard to the development, we've been able to invest $363 million in research relating to COVID-19. Our vaccine research has seen vaccines underway through investments in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney, and, in particular, at the University of Queensland in Brisbane. The University of Queensland's molecular clamp has a $5 million investment from the Australian government. The progress of the results so far has been good, and we anticipate further results in the coming weeks. The news is positive and good, and Australia is playing a role not just at home but internationally with that leadership.

In addition, I am pleased to be able to inform the House that we have secured cold chain logistics distribution capacity for the Pfizer vaccine, one of the four vaccines Australia has been able to acquire as part of a 134.8 million-unit purchasing program, with an additional 25.5 million units available under the Covax Facility—enough to protect all Australians three times over. But this cold chain logistics is innovative. It's about making sure we can provide the mRNA vaccine, if that is the successful vaccine. Our hope and our expectation is that it won't just be one vaccine but that all of those four, and hopefully some of those other vaccines in which we are investing, will be successful. Through that, we'll be saving lives and protecting lives in Australia and also helping to save lives and protect lives around the world.