Moderna vaccine factory hits halfway milestone

3 minute read

Construction of the plant is on track with 500 new jobs created, another 500 to come and the first ‘superjab’ doses expected late in 2025.

Construction of Moderna’s Melbourne mRNA vaccine manufacturing facility has hit the halfway mark with all on schedule for an opening in the second half of 2024, according to the company and the Victorian government.

The Clayton facility will have the capacity to produce 100 million vaccine doses per year for respiratory diseases. Moderna plans to manufacture a range of mRNA vaccines at the facility from their pipeline for respiratory health conditions including influenza, respiratory syncytial virus and covid.

The construction phase has created up to 500 jobs and up to 500 additional advanced manufacturing jobs will be created once the facility is operational.

“We’re thrilled by the rapid progress we’ve made in constructing our first large-scale mRNA manufacturing facility for Australia, bringing us one step closer to its completion in the second half of 2024,” said Moderna Australia and New Zealand GM Michael Azrak.

“This milestone underscores Moderna’s unwavering commitment to providing Australians with timely access to pandemic response capabilities and the vital capacity to manufacture groundbreaking mRNA vaccines for seasonal respiratory and emerging viruses.”

The manufacturing plant is the third piece of Moderna’s Victorian mission, complemented by the recent opening of its Regional Research Centre for Respiratory Medicines and Tropical Disease, and the company’s headquarters for Australia, New Zealand, South-East Asia and Oceania.

Moderna is also forming partnerships with Victoria’s world-leading medical research institutes and clinical trial networks, allowing Victorians to be among the first people in the world to trial new mRNA medicines for a range of health conditions.

The US biotech’s Melbourne facility is part of a 10-year partnership with the Australian government to produce mRNA vaccines locally to prepare for the next pandemic, whatever its pathogen may be.

According to The Australian, the “superjab” – a combination vaccine for the flu and covid in a single shot – will be available in the northern hemisphere from late 2025, subject to regulatory approval, and in Australia in 2026. A follow-up triple shot, which will include coverage for RSV, is expected to follow.

The Melbourne site will produce the first vials for the 2025 northern hemisphere launch if all regulatory approvals are completed by then.

CSL, Australia’s biggest health company with a market value of $130 billion, is also working on a “superjab” and has a licensing deal with Arcturus Therapeutics to access its late-stage amplifying mRNA vaccine platform technology, which includes a covid vaccine candidate. No launch date has been mooted as yet.

The Australian said decreasing covid vaccination rates – despite health advice recommending a shot every six months, or six months after last covid infection – had resulted in falling sales for Moderna. Covid vaccination sales of $US6-8 billion are expected this year, compared with $ US18.4 billion in 2022.

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