The new Minister for Health Mark Butler said the review will look at the contracts signed by the former government with vaccine companies and evaluate whether they’re suitable going forward.
Butler said the review will not investigate the success or failures of the country’s pandemic response, which should be left to a formal inquiry or royal commission.
“There will be a time for a proper inquiry into the country’s response to the pandemic, I don’t want this review to go to that,” he said.
“I want this review to go to some good independent advice to the government about our existing arrangements and the contracts we’ve inherited from the former government both in relation to vaccine delivery over the next 12 to 18 months and treatments.
“What supply we currently have in-country whether they’re adequate to our needs or even surplus.
“It’s not about looking back and examining the rights and wrongs of the former government’s approach to negotiating the contracts in the first place.”
Jane Halton, the former secretary for the department of finance, will lead the review.
Butler said the review will look at three key elements of the current COVID-19 vaccine deals including the current contracts and supply of vaccines and treatments.
It will also investigate whether the number of vaccines and oral treatments procured in the contracts will be sufficient or too many for the rest of 2022 and into 2023.
Finally, it will look at whether changes need to be made to the contracts about the supply for the next 12 to 18 months.
“We are determined as a government to stay on the front foot in the fight against this virus and ensure that the Australian community has priority access to the best possible vaccine protection against this virus and all of its variants,” Butler said.
“And the best possible cutting-edge treatments to prevent severe illness and death for vulnerable Australians.”
Butler said that he doesn’t think there are any issues with the contracts but the review ensures the contracts are “fit for purpose” in the current spread of the virus.
“This is a fast-moving landscape, we need to be agile,” he said.
“We need to make sure arrangements that might have been fantastic three months ago are fit for purpose for the rest of this year.”