Labor has ramped up calls for the federal government to secure up to six coronavirus vaccine deals.
The push comes as US drug company Moderna revealed its potential coronavirus vaccine was 94.5 per cent effective during phase 3 trials.
Australia already has four vaccine supply deals with AstraZeneca, CSL, Pfizer and Novavax.
But opposition health spokesman Chris Bowen said Moderna’s results were very promising.
“At least six countries or groups already have a supply agreement for this vaccine,” Mr Bowen said.
“The government needs to explain why Australia isn’t one of them.
“Best practice is five to six, and while the Minister likes to say we have enough vaccines three times over, that assumes all four deals will be rapidly successful.”
Health Minister Greg Hunt said Australia would have access to a range of other potential vaccines, which could include Moderna, through the COVAX facility.
Mr Hunt said the Science and Industry Technical Advisory Group was providing advice to government on the vaccines Australia should invest in.
“Our Australian experts have, I think, chosen very well,” he said.
“ They have identified three different classes of vaccine, protein, viral and mRNA.
“The most important news is not only that Australia’s vaccines are producing strong results, but that the success of other vaccines increasingly means the world is likely to have a range of options that will assist in limiting the global spread.”
Mr Hunt said he was confident there would be a successful vaccine available in 2021.
Deputy chief medical officer Michael Kidd said Australia would not have access to the same volume of vaccines through COVAX that it would through its individual deals.
“These are early results with the Moderna vaccine, and it is certainly incredibly encouraging,” Professor Kidd said.
“But, of course, there is still a lot more work which needs to be done to make sure this vaccine is going to be safe and it’s going to be effective in which groups of people in the population are going to benefit the most from it, if and when it becomes available.”
The two-dose Moderna jab is a messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) type vaccine, similar to the potential Pfizer vaccine.
Australia does not have the technology to manufacture mRNA vaccines.