Australian PM calls for domestic mRNA vaccine production

pharmafile | May 21, 2021 | News story | Medical Communications Australia, Moderna, Vaccine, mrna 

Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has invited proposals from pharmaceutical firms to establish domestic manufacturing of mRNA vaccines, to strengthen the country’s ability to fight future pandemics.

On Friday Canberra announced that companies had two months to submit their own proposals, following an announcement last month that the Australian government was in active talks with Moderna to establish mRNA vaccine production.

Morrison spoke to reporters in Tasmania, saying: “We have called for those proposals to come forward and to find out exactly what is needed from those proponents to see these facilities and capabilities being established here in Australia.”

Last year, Australia announced a A$1.5 billion ($1.2 billion) spending outlay to revitalise manufacturing across six sectors, including pharmaceuticals.

Though Australia has fared better than many other developed nations in containing the pandemic, with just under 30,000 cases and 910 deaths, the COVID-19 vaccine rollout has missed its initial dosage targets.

The decision to prioritise domestic manufacturing at the centre of long-term recovery plans comes amid growing concern that Australia has been too reliant on Asia for the supply of essential goods. Sour relations with top trading partner, China, and the pandemic’s impact on global supply chains have also strengthened that view.

Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, said Moderna was one of several companies Australia was in talks with over domestic production. He told reporters in Canberra: “Our hope is that we will have at least one, if not more than one, manufacturing operation in Australia. I am confident that over the future period, we will have mRNA production in Australia.”

Both Moderna and Pfizer use mRNA technology in their vaccines, which work by prompting the body to make a protein that is part of the virus, triggering an immune response.

Christian Porter, Australia’s Minister for Innovation, said: “It’s very likely as this technology and medical science develops it won’t be simply be vaccines but a range of therapeutic approaches for cancer, for cardiovascular diseases.”

Kat Jenkins

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