Coronavirus: Southern hemisphere to get first mRNA vaccine facility

The project will produce 100 million vaccine doses a year for Covid-19, influenza and other diseases


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Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Published: Mon 15 Aug 2022, 9:34 AM

On Monday, Covid-19 vaccine maker Moderna announced that it would be opening an mRNA vaccine manufacturing facility in the Australian city of Melbourne, a first for the southern hemisphere.

The project will be based at one of Australia's largest universities, Monash, and will produce 100 million vaccine doses a year for Covid-19, influenza and other diseases.

Moderna's Spikevax was one of a new class of inoculations developed during the Covid-19 pandemic, that uses a cutting-edge technology called messenger RNA (mRNA).

These vaccines can be quickly developed, and use a molecule to teach the body to identify and fight a pathogen, such as Covid-19, unlike traditional jabs, which contain a small piece of bacteria or virus.

Construction on the mRNA manufacturing facility is set to begin this year and be complete in 2024 — with vaccines production starting soon after.

Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Monday that it was a "show of faith" in Australia, by vaccine giant Moderna.

For Australia, the facility was not only about health or science, he said, but "also about national security", after the country experienced serious vaccine shortages during the pandemic.

Melbourne, where the Moderna facility will be based, faced one of the world's longest lockdowns, as authorities tried to contain the virus.

According to Albanese, a lesson from the pandemic was that "we need to make more things here. We can't continue to assume that it's okay to be at the end of global supply chains."

In recent months, Covid-19 cases have spiked in Australia, after restrictions were loosened. The virus became the country's third-most common cause of death in 2022.


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