Moderna bringing mRNA vaccine manufacturing to Victoria
Victoria is set to become the first place in the Southern Hemisphere to manufacture messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines, following an in-principle agreement between the Australian Government, the Victorian Government and Moderna. The collaboration aims to provide Australians with access to a domestically manufactured portfolio of mRNA vaccines against respiratory viruses, including COVID-19, seasonal influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and potential other vaccines, pending licensure.
A sovereign onshore vaccine manufacturing facility will be built in Victoria as part of a long-term strategic partnership, secured by the federal government, to increase preparedness for possible future pandemics, including priority access to vaccines, research and development, clinical trials and global supply chain access. The in-principle deal will mean that up to 100 million mRNA vaccines could be produced in Australia each year from 2024; the facility is intended to also be activated on an urgent basis to support Australia with direct access to rapid pandemic response capabilities. Moderna is in discussion with other governments about potential collaborations built on a similar model.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said mRNA technology will play an important and growing role in response to future health issues and that securing a sovereign onshore mRNA technology was critical. “This investment will continue to secure Australia’s future economic prosperity while protecting lives by providing access to world-leading mRNA vaccines made on Australian soil,” he said.
“The new mRNA manufacturing facility in Victoria will produce respiratory vaccines for potential future pandemics and seasonal health issues such as the common flu, protecting lives and livelihoods.”
Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt said that the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation’s (ATAGI) recent recommendation on Moderna’s booster dose serves as a further testament to the company’s advancements in mRNA. “Ensuring Moderna has a manufacturing presence here will deliver Australia priority access to products manufactured here in Australia, by Australians, for Australians, using the most cutting-edge vaccination science available in the world today,” he said.
“This is another key pillar in Australia’s long-term medical manufacturing future, and we are looking forward to finalising the agreements with Moderna as soon as possible.”
Once operational, the Moderna facility should help meet Australia’s ongoing needs for COVID-19 vaccines, as well as for other respiratory mRNA vaccines as they are developed and approved. Minister for Finance Simon Birmingham said, “Moderna will become a vital part of Australia’s mRNA research and development landscape, bringing investment and opportunities for the entire research sector.
“This investment will mean world-leading clinical trials, a strong local workforce and creating opportunities through supply chain activities, helping to drive Australia’s economy forward.”
The deal is expected to create up to 500 jobs during construction of the facility and around 500 ongoing roles across the broader industry, driving the development of a local mRNA ecosystem that does not currently exist in Australia. The Australian Government will meanwhile promote the development of such an ecosystem by investing up to $25 million from 2022–23 in the 2021 mRNA Clinical Trials Enabling Infrastructure Grant Opportunity — directly supporting Australian medical research and medical innovation projects that leverage and enhance emerging technologies, platforms, equipment and infrastructure to conduct clinical trials of mRNA-based vaccines and therapeutics.
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