Coronavirus: Australia strikes major deal to manufacture one of world's most promising COVID-19 vaccines

Australia is making moves to get COVID-19 under control by striking a major deal to manufacture one of the most promising vaccines.

The deal has prompted questions about New Zealand's own progress and what Australia's announcement could mean for us. 

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday announced the blockbuster deal with AstraZeneca - the drug giant behind Oxford University's top-shelf vaccine.

"This would mean a vaccine for every single Australian with the vaccines manufactured right here in Australia," Morrison said in an interview with Sunrise. "This is important news."

Provided it's proven safe to use, Australia would be among the first in the world to get the jab.

"This is a day of hope for all Australians," Morrison told Sunrise. "This would have to be one of the biggest worldwide efforts to find the vaccine that we've ever seen."

And it's potentially hope for New Zealand too - piggybacking off the Australian deal isn't out of the question.

Scott Morrison.
Scott Morrison. Photo credit: Getty

"We're not closing off any channels," Research, Science, and Innovation Minister Megan Woods said. "We are pursuing multiple." 

But this channel really is the pick of the bunch. More than 160 vaccines are being developed around the world and only 29 are at the human testing phase.

Oxford University's vaccine is widely considered the frontrunner and New Zealand can't afford to be left behind.

"People's freedoms are affected by COVID," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. "It is in everyone's interests that we have a wide-reaching, comprehensive vaccination programme for NZers."

Like Australia, once New Zealand has it will be free to all. Ardern also hopes it will be used by all.

"If they choose not to, they are putting their own health at risk because we will, of course, remove other controls that would have stopped the spread," Ardern said.