Labor supports the Federal Government in continuing their engagement and agreement with the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
 
News today that AstraZeneca has ‘voluntarily paused vaccination to allow review of safety data by an independent committee’ is a process to be expected during clinical trials to ensure vaccine safety.
 
We understand the relevant data monitoring safety board should provide a full explanation of any adverse reactions of the vaccine and we appreciate the transparency of AstraZeneca as they investigate findings. We also wish the best for any trial participant suffering adverse reactions.  
 
We support comments by the Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Nick Coatsworth today on waiting “to see exactly what the adverse reaction was and whether they attribute it to the vaccine”.
 
There is no guarantee that the two deals now secured by the Government, the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca and University of Queensland/CSL vaccines are the silver bullet to COVID-19.
 
Thus the Federal Government must expand their investment in a range of potential COVID-19 vaccines.
 
Over six billion doses of vaccines through more than fifty agreements were secured by other countries before Australia secured agreements for these two vaccines.
 
The Government also needs to plan now for how we will manufacture and distribute enough doses for all Australians in the event that it is a different vaccine candidate that is most effective.
 
Labor repeats our call to the Government to engage and invest in vaccine development — at home, in our region and around the world.