Australia will have the southern hemisphere’s first mRNA vaccine manufacturing hub in a new agreement with pharmaceutical giant Moderna.
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.
Construction will start by the end of 2022 and production is expected from 2024.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison will on Thursday announce the deal – a collaboration between the federal and Victorian governments and Moderna.
He says it is a “shot in the arm” to protect Australians from future pandemics.
“This will be the first mRNA production facility in the southern hemisphere, and will ensure Australians have quick and easy access to these lifesaving vaccines,” he said.
The facility will focus on treatments for respiratory illnesses including COVID-19, seasonal flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and other potential respiratory viruses.
It will produce 100 million Australian-made mRNA doses every year and is expected to create hundreds of jobs in the construction and running of the facility.
The Doherty Institute, which will be part of the program, has welcomed news of the deal.
The institute’s director Professor Sharon Lewin said access to the facility would be invaluable going forward.
“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.”
Professor Lewin said the deal would expedite pathways in the space.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said the hub will allow Australians to access cutting-edge vaccine technology into the future.