NSW plans to manufacture key technology used to make Covid-19 vaccines

Australia’s top scientists and politicians have teamed up to set up a manufacturing plant for mRNA vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Monday met with the state’s chief scientist to discuss plans to build Australia’s first RNA manufacturing facility.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines both use mRNA technology but Australia has no capacity to make the jabs itself, leaving the country dependent on overseas production.

Making mRNA vaccines took on more importance since Australia’s plan to immunise the population with locally-made AstraZeneca vaccnine was scuttled by the jab’s link to a fatal blood clot condition.

Messenger mRNA vaccines teach cells how to make protein that triggers an immune response to a virus, rather than using an inactivated version of the disease.

Ms Berejiklian said she was launching a pilot project with the state’s best brains which would take 12 to 24 months to complete.

She said the private sector, universities and the NSW Government already worked together during the pandemic on life-changing research.

‘NSW is well placed to provide the advanced manufacturing workforce training, the scientific expertise and the physical location of a future RNA-based manufacturing hub,’ she said.

‘The state has an established advanced manufacturing capability and is well placed to be the home of mRNA manufacturing in Australia.’

Experts have said creating mRNA manufacturing capacity would cost $250 million, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said mRNA vaccines were easier to make than other vaccines.

‘What makes them so exciting is that they’re relatively easy to produce, change [and] modify at low cost, and that’s why people are so interested in this as an emerging technology for vaccines into the future,’ she said.