mRNA vaccine manufacturing our goal: Hunt

(University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt says Australia is making excellent progress in being able to manufacture mNRA type vaccines.

At the moment, mNRA vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna have to be imported from overseas, but the AstraZeneca version is made by Australia’s biotech giant CSL in Victoria.

“mRNA vaccine production in Australia is our goal and intention and that is exactly what we’re doing at the moment,” Mr Hunt told reporters on Sunday.

“We are working on a number of fronts but we’re making progress and I am confident that we will be in a position to say more in the coming months about this if not earlier.”

Still, the country is making rapid progress in its vaccination rollout with doses it now has to hand.

The health minister said 75.8 per cent of people aged 16 and over have now had their first dose of a vaccine and 51.5 per cent are fully covered with two jabs.

“We are on track, we are making great progress,” Mr Hunt told reporters.

Younger Australians have also been quick to roll up their sleeves, with more than 27 per cent of 12 to 15-year-olds – 340,000 – having come forward to be vaccinated.

“That program is less than two weeks into its course of action,” he said.

On vaccinating even younger children, Mr Hunt said the government is working with a range of partners, and as clinical trial data comes forward it will up to the Therapeutic Goods Administration to assess the findings.

He noted that Pfizer has already commenced a registration process in the US to vaccinate very young children, while Moderna has not progressed beyond clinical trials.

“But we have vaccine from both Moderna and Pfizer which is ordered for this year and next year,” Mr Hunt said.

“If that vaccine is approved as safe and effective for children, we already have access to it and will be able to supply to Australian families.” 

Australia has 60 million doses of Pfizer ordered for 2022 and 50 million doses of the Moderna.

Meanwhile, NSW reported 961 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday and nine more deaths. None of the deceased, aged from their 40s to their 80s, were double jabbed.

The death toll in the state’s current outbreak now stands at 297.

Victoria recorded another 779 new cases and two further deaths, while their were 25 new infections in the ACT.


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