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South Africa's AstraZeneca suspension underlines urgency of local vaccine manufacture

The Greens say the suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine roll-out in South Africa shows the need for the government to establish a publicly-owned mRNA vaccine manufacturer in Australia.

Australia needs to be nimble and able to quickly adapt vaccines to ever-mutating strains of COVID, which would only be possible with a local, publicly owned facility that puts health, not profits, first.

Leader of the Australian Greens Adam Bandt MP said:

“The South Africa AstraZeneca suspension shows Australia needs publicly-owned vaccine production capacity to make the more adaptable and effective mRNA vaccines.

“We should never have sold off CSL in the first place, but re-building publicly-owned production would be a better-late-than-never necessity for the long haul.

“Publicly-owned mRNA manufacturing capacity is a vital insurance measure. We need to have a diverse portfolio to rapidly pivot to deal with new strains. 

“Australia should also strongly support COVAX and our neighbours in the Pacific region must have timely and adequate access to Covid-19 vaccines. Local publicly-owned production capacity would enhance our ability to do this.

Australian Greens spokesperson on Health Senator Rachel Siewert said:

“We need a publicly owned manufacturing capacity, mRNA technology is likely to revolutionise vaccine and drug development and Australia could be at the forefront of this.

“This should be started immediately as it will take some time to establish local manufacturing. Our local manufacturer CSL is not currently equipped to produce vaccines that use mRNA technology. 

“Australia should also be contracting to access the Moderna vaccine as a matter of priority to ensure access to a greater diversity of vaccines.

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