Published 17-11-2020
| Article appears in February 2021 Issue

Work to start next year on $1b vaccine manufacturing plant


Work will start next year on construction of the southern hemisphere’s largest vaccine manufacturing facility in Victoria, creating 520 construction jobs.

The state-of-the-art factory will be constructed at Parkville, near Melbourne airport, by Seqirus, the vaccine division of CSL, and is expected to be fully operational by mid-2026.

The federal government will contribute $1 billion over 12 years, as it looks to sure up its response to future pandemics. A further $800 million will come from CSL.

It will produce flu and fever vaccines to be used at home and sold overseas, as well as life-saving antivenoms for snake, sniper and marine animal bites.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it was an “investment in our national health”.

“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,” Mr Morrison said.

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

While the federal government stumped up the money, the Victorian government played a part in procuring the land.

Seqirus is the only company that makes influenza and Q fever vaccines in Australia and no other firm in the world produces antivenoms against 11 poisonous Australian snakes, marine creatures and spiders.

“Providing safe and effective influenza vaccines is essential in securing our defences against serious public health threats,” CSL chief executive and managing director Paul Perreault said.

“The facility will be an important addition to our global influenza manufacturing supply chain, incorporating the technology platform used in our Holly Springs, North Carolina facility.

“Cell-based influenza vaccine technology offers many advantages over the existing process including being more scalable and offering faster production – particularly important in the case of influenza pandemics,” said Mr Perreault.

CSL is contracted to produce both the Oxford-AstraZeneca and University of Queensland COVID-19 vaccine candidates at its existing Parkville factory.