Thursday, 18 February 2021
I, and also on behalf of Senator Siewert, move:
That the Senate calls on the Government to:
(a) develop a publicly owned manufacturing facility that enables Australia to produce mRNA vaccines and drugs locally;
(b) continue to diversify Australia's vaccine portfolio by securing a deal with Moderna;
(c) increase Commonwealth Serum Laboratories' capacity to produce Novavax at the same time as AstraZeneca given the promising results from Phase 3 clinical trials;
(d) ensure that vaccines are given to maximise their efficacy; and
(e) support our neighbours in the Pacific region to have timely and adequate access to COVID-19 vaccines recognising none of us are safe until all of us are safe.
The Australian government has secured more than 150 million doses, enough to supply the entire Australian population several times and one of the highest rates in the world. The government has procured vaccines using a diversified portfolio strategy based on the expert advice of the Science and Industry Technical Advisory Group, led by Professor Brendan Murphy. We've also secured further vaccines through the Covax Facility, giving Australia access to additional vaccine candidates. The Australian government is also providing $500 million to support access to vaccines for our partners in the south-west Pacific and South-East Asia.
CSL has advised that any attempt at simultaneous production is not possible without compromising delivery of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Producing mRNA vaccines at scale is a brand-new challenge that the entire world is grappling with. It will take time to develop properly. An audit has identified some companies in Australia with mRNA production capability, and we are currently working with them to explore if that capability could be scaled up in the future.