Local manufacturing of vaccines key to future pandemics: CSIRO

The National Science Agency The CSIRO released a report on Australia’s pandemic preparedness, making 20 recommendations to the government in six areas of science and technology, including the development of onshore vaccine manufacturing capacity.

Titled Strengthening Australia’s Pandemic Preparedness: Science and technology-enabled solutions, the document draws on lessons learned over the past two and a half years of Covid-19, with contributions from 146 experts from 66 organizations across government, the industry and research.

The report highlights that “almost all Australian vaccines are imported, creating the potential for supply chain disruption, particularly during a pandemic.” He argues that the country needs the capacity to produce a diverse set of vaccine technologies because imports will be very competitive when a new virus emerges.

The report notes that CSL has established inactivated virus and live attenuated virus manufacturing capacity in Australia with these products “currently being exported in large volumes” and CSL intends to further expand its cellular facility.

Highlighting the challenge of developing a local vaccine manufacturing industry, the report says, “Australian companies face barriers, such as high input costs and a small clinical trial enrollment population, to scale up manufacturing down”.

Overall, the report calls on the government to undertake “strengthened and nationally coordinated investments in science and technology” to provide a “wider range of complementary preparedness and response approaches”.

The six science and technology focus areas are:

  • preclinical capabilities for medical countermeasures
  • vaccine manufacturing
  • therapeutic reorientation and new antivirals
  • point-of-care diagnostics for case identification
  • genomic analysis of pathogens and their variants, and
  • data sharing informing response strategies.

Produced by CSIRO Futures, the national science body’s strategic and economic advisory arm, each focus area also corresponds to a 2030 target. These targets include onshore vaccine manufacturing capacity and infrastructure in Australia capable of support phase I to phase III clinical trials. This capability should be diversified across vaccine types, including recombinant protein and viral vector technologies, according to the report.

The recommendations aim to avoid the significant costs incurred by the Covid-19 pandemic during any large-scale viral outbreak. The report found Australia’s GDP shrank by $144 billion from December 2019 to March.

It also notes that less quantifiable costs, including “impacts on mental health, social cohesion, employment, childhood development and equity, may last longer and far exceed direct costs.”

The federal government has announced that it will soon release a response to the report.

Health and Aged Care Minister Mark Butler said the report is important for learning lessons from Covid-19 and “analyzing how we are better placed to act faster, more decisively and more decisively.” more enlightened”.

“Providing more vaccine manufacturing capacity in Australia is a big step towards future preparedness and finding other viruses means our health experts are well placed to respond quickly to an emerging threat,” said the Minister Butler.

Science and Industry Minister Ed Husic noted that the Commonwealth had already supported the development of a vaccine manufacturing plant in Melbourne. He also added that “the National Reconstruction Fund will help strengthen our medical supply chains, supported by a $1.5 billion medical manufacturing fund.”

Final arrangements for a 10-year partnership between the Commonwealth, the Victorian Government and Moderna were finalized earlier this month. As part of the partnership, Moderna will establish an mRNA vaccine manufacturing facility at Monash University.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley by email.

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