Shot in the arm: Morrison seals deal for Moderna vaccine hub

Australia will get a manufacturing hub for mRNA vaccines as part of a multi-billion dollar agreement with pharmaceutical giant Moderna.

Mar 24, 2022, updated Mar 24, 2022
Prime Minister Scott Morrison after signing an agreement for Moderna vaccines to be manufactured in Australia. (Photo: AAP Image/Darren England)

Prime Minister Scott Morrison after signing an agreement for Moderna vaccines to be manufactured in Australia. (Photo: AAP Image/Darren England)

The announcement comes as the country’s leading vaccine advisory group is set to hand down its advice on whether a fourth dose will be needed for vulnerable people.

The research and development hub will be based in Victoria at a location yet to be decided, and serve as the headquarters for the company’s operations in Australia, Southeast Asia and Oceania.

The hub will be the first of its type in the southern hemisphere, with construction to begin by the end of the year.

Production at the site is expected to start from 2024.

While the facility will manufacture Covid-19 vaccines, it will also focus on other respiratory illnesses, including seasonal flu and respiratory syncytial virus.

The manufacturing hub is expected to produce about 100 million mRNA vaccines annually.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the facility a “shot in the arm” to help protect Australians from future pandemics.

“What we’re announcing today is absolutely essential for future pandemic preparedness, and we’re already ranked number two in the world on pandemic preparedness,” he told reporters in Melbourne.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said the facility could potentially produce a combined Covid-19 and flu vaccine.

“Moderna has looked around the world and they partnered with Australia, and we have partnered with them,” he said.

“mRNA isn’t just about Covid, it isn’t just about vaccines, it’s also about the precision medicines of the future so we can literally tailor the treatments for individuals over the course of the next decade.”

Mr Hunt said he expected to receive advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation on Thursday.

It is expected the advice will recommend a fourth dose of a Covid-19 vaccine for people aged over 65, as well as people who are immunocompromised.

The Doherty Institute, which will be part of the manufacturing program, welcomed news of the Moderna deal.

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The institute’s director Professor Sharon Lewin said access to the facility would be invaluable.

“We have seen with the Covid-19 pandemic the importance of being able to quickly create and deliver an effective vaccine,” she said.

“By applying Moderna’s mRNA technology, there are opportunities to revolutionise our approach to developing both vaccines and therapeutics.”

The chief executive of Moderna Michael Azrak said the hub would help create pandemic resilience.

“Yesterday, it’s Covid, but tomorrow it will be influenza … and other respiratory viruses into the future,” he said.

“Today’s agreement will ensure Australians will be manufacturing respiratory vaccines right here in Melbourne.”


NSW: 24,803 cases, eight deaths, 1180 in hospital

VIC: 10,259 new cases, 11 deaths, 244 in hospital including 25 in ICU

TAS: 2009 new cases, one death and 28 people in hospital

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