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Early vaccine would mean $34 billion shot in the arm for Australia: Frydenberg

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Rolling out a coronavirus vaccine by mid-2021 could deliver a massive bonus to the Australian economy, Josh Frydenberg says.

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The treasurer has based his federal budget forecasts on a national vaccine rollout by the end of next year.

“If that occurs six months earlier, that will provide a $34 billion boost to the Australian economy,” he said on Thursday.

Frydenberg welcomed Britain’s approval of a vaccine but says the decision will not fast-track its approval in Australia.

“Obviously, their situation is somewhat different to Australia’s. They’ve had more than a million infections, nearly 60,000 deaths,” he told the ABC.

“We have the vaccine going through our own regulatory approval process and the health minister has said he expects that process to conclude by the end of January.

“If the vaccine is found to be safe and effective, then it will be rolled out by March.”

The vaccine by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech is one of the four COVID-19 vaccines purchased by the Federal Government.

It was approved for use on Wednesday by the British government, which said it would be rolled out across the UK early next week.

The treatment is known as a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine, which uses only the virus’s genetic code and not weakened forms of the virus as conventional vaccines do.

The federal government welcomed the UK’s emergency approval of the vaccine as an important step for the world.

A woman who works in a Sydney quarantine hotel has been diagnosed with coronavirus, sparking concerns about potential transmission.

The NSW Government expects more cases however the woman’s five family members tested negative overnight.

Meanwhile Qantas boss Alan Joyce expects the number of people flying overseas will not improve until mid-next year, when a significant part of the world’s population has been vaccinated for the coronavirus.

Mr Joyce on Thursday said he expected distribution of a vaccine would determine how soon customers returned to international travel.

The United Kingdom has become the first to approve Pfizer’s vaccine, which will be distributed from next week. England’s health service says most jabs will be given between January and April.

The US could approve two vaccines before Christmas.

“We’ll need a vaccine for international travel to restart properly,” Mr Joyce said.

He expected the Australian government would require vaccination for anyone wishing to visit Australia, other than New Zealanders, or face two weeks’ quarantine.

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