The world will continue to suffer from coronavirus if "vaccine nationalism" occurs, the chair of a global alliance to fight epidemics has warned.
Jane Halton is worried the "we're all in it together" mentality could disappear if a vaccine for coronavirus is developed.
"If we have vaccine nationalism and one country looks after itself first, and at the expense of the rest of the world, everyone is going to continue to suffer," she told the National Press Club in Canberra on Monday.
"This is difficult."
Ms Halton, chair of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), believes there's a reasonable chance a vaccine will be found for COVID-19.
She says 94 per cent of vaccine candidates fail, but there are 130 groups around the world racing to find a solution.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly told reporters on Monday he hopes CEPI is successful, adding the organisation has provided funding to nine different candidates with one of them Australian.
“Part of the contract for those funds is that there will not be a nationalist approach, and whatever is discovered will be made available for the whole of the world,” he said.
When asked by reporters if he could rule out another country developing a vaccine and it not being available to Australians, Professor Kelly said he couldn’t.
“There are a range of pharmaceutical companies, philanthropic donations, national donations, that are all part of that global effort and there is a lot of collaboration,” he said.
“But that collaboration will rapidly become competitive, I'm sure, as candidate vaccines become more likely to be successful. We're lucky here in Australia that we do have a vaccine-making capability.”
Ms Halton believes Australia has a “reasonable chance” of getting a vaccine from the trials. One will potentially be held in July.
But the former Australian Department of Health head warns the public must be prepared in case a vaccine is not developed.
"We actually need to think about how we will manage our lives in case there isn't, and certainly in the interim."
Ms Halton says CEPI has raised about $1.4 billion of $2 billion needed to develop a vaccine.
Mass production becomes the next issue if a vaccine is found, she added.
Ms Halton has also warned against becoming complacent on social distancing and personal hygiene.
"A lot of people go: 'It's all good now', and we've seen an absence of social distancing out in public. And I would remind people - it's not all good now."
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