First Moderna doses to arrive in Australia

A first shipment of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine is winging its way to Sydney.
A first shipment of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine is winging its way to Sydney.

Australia will add a third weapon to its coronavirus vaccine arsenal when the first Moderna doses arrive in the country.

The first shipment is due to arrive in Sydney on Friday night before being distributed to states and territories next week.

A second shipment of the vaccine will land in the country later this weekend.

Moderna doses will undergo the same Therapeutic Goods Administration batch testing as all other COVID-19 vaccines on arrival.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said there would be one million doses of Moderna that would arrive in the country in coming days.

"The significant outcome of that is that means over 1800 pharmacies will commence distribution of Moderna next week," Mr Hunt told reporters on Friday.

He said 4500 general practices would be involved from next week, up from 3000 this week.

"These are very important because they simply provide not only more vaccines, but more points of access for Australians everywhere," the minister said.

"My hope is that everybody who has not yet taken the vaccine will come forward over the coming days and weeks and there is sufficient vaccine for every Australian before the end of October, if not slightly earlier."

Mr Hunt said supply of Moderna would arrive consistently each week going forward.

Moderna, like Pfizer, is an mRNA vaccine meaning it uses genetic information from the virus to trigger an immune response.

It will be primarily available in pharmacies across Australia with all people aged 12 to 59 eligible for the two-dose course.

Large-scale clinical trials have shown adults with both doses were about 94 per cent less likely to become ill from coronavirus than unvaccinated people.

A gap of four to six weeks between doses is recommended for maximum effectiveness.

Moderna will also be administered through workplace vaccination programs, although they are primarily expected to use Pfizer.

Australia has an agreement for 25 million Moderna doses including 10 million of the current vaccine and 15 million booster shots.

Mr Hunt said Australia has now passed the threshold of 70 per cent of eligible adults having received their first vaccine dose, with more than 24 million doses being distributed in the country since the start of the rollout.

Australian Associated Press