The UK and Australia have agreed to a partnership which will see some 4m vaccines shared with each other, as Britain’s double-jabbed population nears 80 per cent.
Britain will be the first to ship over the large batch of Pzifer/BioNTech jabs, while Australia will return the same number before the end of the year.
It means that Australia can bolster its current vaccination roll out, after being hit again by a spike in cases.
Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, went into a snap lockdown last month to curb the surging number of cases.
The state increased fines for breaching lockdown rules or for lying to contract-tracing officials to A$5,000 (£2,683) “on the spot”, state premier Gladys Berejiklian warned locals.
“Vaccines have built a strong wall of defence in the UK and we want to support nations around the world in recovering from COVID-19 and improving access to vaccines,” health secretary Sajid Javid said in a statement.
“By working with international partners to coordinate the rollout of life-saving vaccines, we will protect more people from this awful virus and save lives.”
The next batch of more than 2m doses from the UK are also set to be delivered across Africa and Asia through the global COVAX vaccine sharing scheme.
The latest vaccine donation forms part of prime minister Boris Johnson’s pledge to share 100m vaccines at the Cornwall G7 summit earlier this year.