A new sovereign vaccine manufacturing facility will be built in Australia to produce respiratory mRNA vaccines for potential future pandemics and seasonal health issues as part of a new in principle agreement between the Australian Government, Victorian Government and global mRNA company Moderna.

The sovereign on-shore facility will be built in Victoria as part of a long term strategic partnership, secured by the Morrison Government, to increase preparedness for possible future pandemics, including priority access to vaccines, research and development, clinical trials and global supply chain access.

The in principle deal will mean in a pandemic 100 million mRNA vaccines could be produced in Australia each year, starting in 2024 pending regulatory and planning approval, with priority access to both pandemic and non-pandemic respiratory mRNA vaccines, including potential seasonal flu vaccines.

mRNA technology is part of the next generation in advanced health care, it has already helped save hundreds of thousands, if not millions of lives worldwide from COVID-19.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said mRNA technology would play an important and growing role in response to future health issues and securing a sovereign on-shore mRNA technology was critical.

“This investment will continue to secure Australia’s future economic prosperity while protecting lives by providing access to world-leading mRNA vaccines made on Australian soil,” the Prime Minister said.

“The new mRNA manufacturing facility in Victoria will produce respiratory vaccines for potential future pandemics and seasonal health issues such as the common flu, protecting lives and livelihoods.”

“Medical manufacturing is at the heart of our Modern Manufacturing Initiative, creating jobs and securing Australia’s economic recovery, with more than a million Australians back working in manufacturing, the highest level since Labor let it fall in 2009.”

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt said that ATAGI’s recent recommendation on Moderna’s booster dose was a further testament to their advancements in mRNA.

“Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine is now available through all channels and just this past Sunday, following expert advice from ATAGI, I was proud to be one of the first in the nation to receive it as a booster dose,” Minister Hunt said.

“Ensuring Moderna has a manufacturing presence here will deliver Australia priority access to products manufactured here in Australia, by Australians, for Australians, using the most cutting edge vaccination science available in the world today.”

“This is another key pillar in Australia’s long term medical manufacturing future, and we are looking forward to finalising the agreements with Moderna as soon as possible.”

Once operational, Moderna will help meet Australia’s ongoing needs for COVID-19 vaccines, and for other respiratory mRNA vaccines as they are developed and approved by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

Minister for Finance Simon Birmingham said the arrival of onshore mRNA manufacturing would allow Australia to continue to play a role as a world leader in medical research.

“Moderna will become a vital part of Australia’s mRNA research and development landscape, bringing investment and opportunities for the entire research sector,” Minister Birmingham said.

“This investment will mean world-leading clinical trials, a strong local workforce and creating opportunities through supply chain activities, helping to drive Australia’s economy forward.”

“This is a further endorsement of Australia’s capacity to be a world-leader in the fields of health and medical research.”

Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said the Government is ensuring Australia maximises the long-term value of any investment in mRNA.

“These discussions to develop a local advanced manufacturing capability build on our $1.5 billion Modern Manufacturing Strategy and the opportunities in the Medical Products National Manufacturing Priority road map, helping to chart the course to bring new jobs to the local biotech sector,” Minister Taylor said.

“Our approach is all about ensuring we can have access to, and are able to develop, the next generation of medicines for Australians, and to make sure that Australia’s biopharmaceutical sector and community is at the forefront of that”.

In order to promote the development of an mRNA sector in Australia, the Australian Government will also invest up to $25 million from 2022-23 in the 2021 mRNA Clinical Trials Enabling Infrastructure Grant Opportunity.

This funding will directly support Australian medical research and medical innovation projects that leverage and enhance emerging technologies, platforms, equipment and infrastructure to conduct clinical trials of mRNA-based vaccines and therapeutics.

This grant opportunity forms part of the Government’s Coronavirus Research Response, which is funded through the $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund.