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$1 billion deal secures largest vaccine plant in Southern Hemisphere

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A new high-tech vaccine manufacturing facility will be developed in Melbourne to secure Australia’s long-term supply of critical health products including pandemic influenza vaccines and life-saving antivenoms.

The $1 billion agreement between the federal government and Seqirus also provides the ability to rapidly manufacture vaccines when responding to health pandemics in the future.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the new complex would be the largest influenza vaccine manufacturing facility in the Southern Hemisphere.

“Keeping Australians safe is my number one priority and while we are rightly focused on both the health and economic challenges of COVID-19, we must also guard against future threats,” the Prime Minister said.

“This agreement cements Australia’s long-term sovereign medical capabilities, giving us the ability to develop vaccines when we need them,” he said.

Just as major defence equipment must be ordered well in advance, the Prime Minister said this is an investment in our national health security against future pandemics.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said under the agreement, Seqirus would invest $800 million in the development of the facility project, creating 520 construction jobs, commencing in 2021.

“This new facility will guarantee Australian health security against pandemic influenza for the next two decades,” Minister Hunt said.

“Our government’s strategy to protect the health and wellbeing of Australians and the Australian economy, as well as having access to a world class health system,” he said.

According to Minister Hunt, this is a major milestone, ensuring that Australia can mass produce vaccines against future flu pandemics, as well as continuing onshore production of seasonal flu vaccines, Q fever vaccines and antivenoms.

Seqirus is currently the only company making influenza and Q fever vaccine in Australia, and the only company in the world making life saving antivenom products against 11 poisonous Australian creatures (snakes, marine creatures and spiders).

The current agreement between the Australian Government and Seqirus—a subsidiary of CSL Ltd—is due to end in 2024-25. To continue onshore manufacturing in Australia, Seqirus will now invest in a major new vaccine manufacturing facility close to Melbourne airport to replace its existing, ageing production facilities in Parkville, Melbourne.

The highly specialised production facility is expected to be operational by 2026 with the contract for supply of these critical products extending to 2036.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said Australia’s manufacturing capability had been a huge asset during the COVID-19 pandemic and this agreement will keep us in a strong position.

“The Morrison Government knows just how important it is for Australia to be able to stand up for itself when it really matters,” Minister Andrews said.

“This investment will not only allow us to continue to manufacture the essentials we need well into the future but it will also create and secure high paying manufacturing jobs across a range of skills,” she said.

Minister Andrews continued that this agreement is just one in a range of investments they are making to drive Australian manufacturing forward and create jobs. She said they are also investing a further $1.3 billion through our Modern Manufacturing Initiative into projects across six priority areas, including medical products.

More than $18.5 billion has committed to support the emergency COVID-19 health response to the pandemic, including $3.2 billion to secure access to over 134.8 million doses of potential COVID-19 vaccine candidates developed by the University of Oxford-Astra Zeneca and the University of Queensland, Pfizer-BioNTech and Novavax.

The Victorian Government has also supported the procurement of suitable land for Seqirus.

Source: Minister for Industry, Science and Technology media release

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