The Victorian Government will invest $50 million to establish mRNA vaccine and therapeutic manufacturing in Melbourne through partnerships with universities, researchers and Australian and international manufacturing companies.
Onshore production of mRNA vaccines, based on messenger RNA which is the molecule that essentially puts DNA instructions into action, has been identified by the Commonwealth Government as a national priority.
Victoria is already home to world-class vaccine manufacturing facilities owned by CSL (ASX: CSL) in the Melbourne suburbs of Broadmeadows and Parkville.
The state will work closely with the Commonwealth and world-leading experts from Monash University, the University of Melbourne, The Doherty Institute and other leading research institutes to develop the first mRNA manufacturing capability in the Southern Hemisphere.
mRNA vaccines are a promising alternative to traditional vaccines because of their high efficacy, capacity for rapid development, low-cost manufacture, and safe administration.
This has been highlighted by the success of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna which are manufactured in Europe and the United States.
"It's vital that we can develop and manufacture mRNA vaccines and treatments locally to ensure we have vaccine security here in Australia and across our region," VIC Acting Premier James Merlino said.
Not only is the move important in the fight against COVID-19, mRNA and other forms of RNA nanomedicines can be used in the treatment of cancer, rare diseases, cellular engineering and protein-replacement therapy.
"There are major advantages to this technology including high efficacy, rapid speed in development, and flexible manufacturing processes. Victoria is well positioned to be at the forefront of this effort," VIC Minister for Health Martin Foley said.
To date, the Federal Government has secured up to 170 million doses of Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Novavax vaccines, including 20 million extra doses of the jab from Pfizer.
The Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine was recently recommended as preferred over the AstraZeneca alternative for recipients aged under 50, following advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) in response to blood clot risks.
As of today, 1.66 million vaccine doses have been administered in Australia, with 399,313 of those delivered in Victoria.
Updated at 12.11pm AEDT on 21 April 2021.
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