Bidding war for Australian mRNA vaccine production

pharmafile | August 18, 2021 | News story | Research and Development  

Biotech company IDT has put forward a proposal to the Australian federal government to produce 100 million mRNA vaccines from early 2023, in a bid that rivals a plan from front-runner and corporate giant, CSL.

IDT has proposed to begin production within 18 months and offer population-wide inoculation against COVID-19 and its variants in a project backed by scientists and industry.

The proposal steps up competition with CSL to build a domestic mRNA vaccine facility with federal support to develop new medical treatments and prepare for future waves of COVID-19.

The details of the bid, confirmed to The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, meet the government’s key objective of building domestic capacity to produce enough vaccines in a year to cover the entire population.

However, the bid depends on whether Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Industry Minister Christian Porter can reach an agreement with vaccine producers such as Pfizer and Moderna to license their mRNA technology to an Australian partner.

IDT Chief Executive, David Sparling, said: “We are quite confident that we can meet the population-scale requirement. Our bid includes a commitment to start delivering 100 million doses within 18 months.”

“We are working with a globally known equipment provider that has built these sorts of facilities in other parts of the world in the recent past.”

The Australian government has not disclosed any plans whilst it considers rival bids from firms, but CSL, which posted revenue of $12 billion last year, has proposed a facility near the University of Melbourne to start producing mRNA vaccines within 18 months, followed by an “industrial scale” facility near Tullamarine.

IDT, a listed company with $14 million in revenue last year, calls instead for a federal commitment to expand an existing production line already used to make pharmaceuticals and located near Monash University.

Kat Jenkins

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