IDT looks to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines on-shore

IDT looks to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines on-shore

Victorian pharmaceuticals manufacturer IDT Australia (ASX: IDT) has announced it is looking into the possibility of utilising its facilities to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines.

The Australian Government has requested IDT Australia undertake a feasibility study for the proposal, which if successful would see IDT supplement CSL's (ASX: CSL) ongoing manufacture of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Shares in IDT surged on the announcement, up 54.05 per cent to $0.28 per share at the market close - a price not seen by IDT since 2016.

Utilising its facilities in Boronia, Victoria, the move would build on work already done by IDT during the pandemic for the Federal Government in its initial COVID-19 response efforts.

In August 2020, the Government tendered a request seeking information regarding IDT's capability and capacity to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines.

The company responded saying its facility was set up to produce the vaccines, and was able to be deployed as a primary or secondary site of manufacture of commercial quantities of a vaccine.

If IDT is to go ahead with manufacturing vaccines, it would complement biotech giant CSL's ongoing work in producing 30 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on-shore.

The announcement comes in the midst of Australia's rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, which is potentially being threatened by European nations withholding shipments of the vaccine due to the EU's assessment of Australia as a low-risk nation.

Earlier this month, Italy blocked a shipment of the AstraZeneca vaccine bound for Australia.

According to Italy's Minister of Foreign Affairs Luigi Di Maio, the shipment of 250,000 doses ordered by the Australian Government was blocked because the pharmaceutical giant had failed to supply the European nation with promised doses.

Italy's decision was backed by the European Commission, with EU regulation allowing countries that manufacture vaccines to prevent doses from being exported and marketed overseas.

The news also comes just days after Australia promised to send more than one million doses of the vaccine to Papua New Guinea, which is currently being hit by a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Though details are scant regarding IDT's potential role in the on-shore manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, its assistance in the manufacturing effort would be vital in Australia's success against the coronavirus.

The company says it will provide updates as additional information comes to hand.

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