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Australia could miss out on a COVID-19 vaccine if US, Germany winning bidding war for first doses

Australia could miss out on a coronavirus vaccine if richer nations like the United States and Germany engage in a bidding war to access doses first.

The US has already bought most of the world’s supply of antiviral drug Remdesivir, the world’s first recommended treatment for COVID-19, from manufacturer Gilead.

The American government has also invested heavily in a University of Oxford experimental jab that has been proven to provoke an immune response that lasts for two months.

Its Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority gave pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca $US1billion ($A1.4billion) to provide 300million doses of the first  possible vaccine doses being developed with the University of Oxford in the UK.

Europe has reserved another 400million doses, through the Inclusive Vaccines Alliance formed between Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands.

The German government also invested 300million Euros ($A486million) in biopharmaceutical company CureVac which is also developing a promising coronavirus vaccine.

The Gavi Vaccine Alliance, which partners with billionaire philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates to promote global childhood immunisation, warned a bidding war could deprive Australia of access to a new COVID-19 vaccine. 

‘If these countries now form engagements, when they start bidding against each other, one it will drive up the price,’ the group’s chief executive Dr Seth Berkley told the ABC’s 7.30 program.

‘The vast majority of countries in the world including wealthy countries, small wealthy countries will not be able to compete.’

Australia’s hope is securing vaccines first lies with the University of Queensland this month starting trials with pharmaceutical giant CSL involving 120 volunteers in Brisbane. 

CSL is continuing to negotiate a formal national supply agreement with the federal government.

Clinical trials will run until the middle of next year – but, if successful, the vaccine could be rolled out at the start of next year for emergency use among the wider population.

There are 17 human trials for a potential vaccine happening around the world, including in the US, UK and China.

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