By the first quarter of 2022, Victorian scientists hope to have perfected Australia’s first mRNA vaccine. The vaccine was produced over a five-month period by Monash University researchers, and phase one clinical trials are set to begin in January, according to Victorian Medical Research Minister Jaala Pulford. The reports are flowing in as the federal and Victorian governments revealed plans to build the country’s first mRNA vaccine manufacturing plant at a yet-to-be-determined location. It will be capable of producing up to 25 million vaccines per year and will be able to scale up to 100 million doses per year in the event of a future pandemic.
The facility, which will be built in Victoria as part of a collaboration between the federal and state governments as well as vaccine maker Moderna, is set to open in 2024. The new production plant, according to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, would create respiratory vaccinations for future pandemics as well as seasonal health challenges like the flu. Omar Khorshid, president of the Australian Medical Association, said the manufacturing would be a substantial addition to the world’s immunisation stocks in the event of a future epidemic.
“It’s fantastic news,” he told the Nine Network, “not just for the management of this pandemic, but for the huge possibilities that mRNA technology offers in terms of treating other diseases that we wouldn’t have believed could be treated by vaccines, such as malignancies.” Mr Morrison said the new facility will also help Australia’s Pacific neighbours vaccinate their populations, with Singapore being the next closest country with the capability. The project is planned to produce 1000 new employment, 500 of which will be temporary and 500 of which will be permanent.
The federal government, on the other hand, is keeping the expenditures under wraps, claiming that the amount of taxpayer money spent on the agreement was commercially confidential. Senator Jacqui Lambie, an independent, applauded the announcement but chastised the government for delaying funding the facility until after the federal election. During the pandemic, the AstraZeneca vaccine was produced onshore, but Australia lacked the capacity to produce the modern mRNA vaccines. In addition, the federal government plans to spend $25 million in the coming fiscal year to assist researchers in conducting clinical studies of mRNA vaccines.
Article by: Hari Yellina (Orchard Tech)