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Aussie health minister "becoming more optimistic" about coronavirus vaccine

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 09:22, September 14, 2020

CANBERRA, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt has said there is "genuine cause for hope and optimism" that a coronavirus vaccine will be available in the first half of 2021.

Hunt said on Sunday that he was "quietly becoming more hopeful and more optimistic" about the potential for a vaccine.

His comments came after pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca announced that stage three trials of a candidate vaccine developed by the University of Oxford have resumed.

The Australian government earlier in September announced that it reached a deal with AstraZeneca to secure 33.8 million doses of the vaccine if trials prove successful.

Hunt said on Sunday that pausing trials to assess if an unexplained illness in a trial participant was related to the vaccine was an "ordinary part of a safeguards process."

"For us, number one is safety that trumps everything," he told Sky News Australia.

"So these are very heartening steps for Australia, for Australians and for the road out.

"There is genuine cause for hope and optimism for Australians on the path to a vaccine.

"Each day I'm quietly becoming more hopeful and more optimistic about the prospect for vaccines for Australians in the first half of 2021 with the earliest available in the first quarter of 2021."

As of Sunday afternoon there had been 26,651 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia, with an increase of 50 new cases in last 24 hours, and 810 deaths after seven new deaths were reported in Victoria, the hardest-hit state by the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

Of the new cases, Victoria confirmed 41 while New South Wales (NSW) confirmed nine more cases.

"Within Victoria, 21 of the new cases are linked to outbreaks or complex cases and 20 are under investigation," said a statement from the Department of Health and Human Services in Victoria on Sunday.

"Six of today's seven deaths are linked to known outbreaks in aged care facilities. To date, 723 people have died from coronavirus in Victoria."

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