Australia orders 25,000,000 doses of Oxford's coronavirus vaccine
Australia has hinted it could introduce sanctions against people who refuse to get immunised against coronavirus after ordering 25 million doses of the Oxford University vaccine.
The country’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, announced overnight every Australian will get a free coronavirus jab after the government jumped on board with the vaccine being developed by Oxford and pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca.
Mr Morrison warned he would make the vaccine ‘as mandatory as you can’ and would only expect people with medical reasons to be exempt.
It followed earlier comments by Australia’s deputy chief medical officer, Nick Coatsworth, who said potential sanctions for refusing a jab could include ‘not being able to go into restaurants, not being able to travel internationally, not being able to catch public transport’.
The prime minister later clarified on Sydney’s 2GB radio station the vaccine would not be compulsory.
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He said: ‘There are no compulsory vaccines in Australia … what we want to achieve is as much vaccination as we possibly can.’
The Oxford vaccine is one of the world’s most closely watched, with preliminary results showing it is safe and triggers an immune response.
The UK has ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine if it is successful.
Mr Morrison described the Oxford vaccine as ‘well-advanced’ but cautioned that the world was ‘very much in the hands of people in white coats’, adding: ‘We’re putting our hope in their science.
He said: ‘Today is a day of hope and Australia needs hope, the world needs hope, when it comes to this coronavirus.
‘And should we be in a position for the trials to be successful, we would hope that this would be made available early next year. If it can be done sooner than that, great.’
Some scientists have said the Oxford vaccine could be ready by Christmas but ministers played down that suggestion.
It comes as a survey found only half of the UK would definitely get a coronavirus vaccine should one become available.
Just 53% of Britons would be certain or very likely to get the jab, a study by King’s College London and polling company Ipsos Mori found.
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