Australian scientists urge govt. to invest in domestic vaccine manufacturing capability

Image Credit: Thirdman on Pexels

Scientists across Australia are urging the Government to develop the onshore manufacturing capability within the next twelve months.

In its 2021-22 Pre-Budget Submission, the Australian Academy of Science called upon the Government to boost Australia’s vaccine nucleic acid manufacturing capability, warning that the country remains “vulnerable” to jab shortages and vaccine nationalism.

Vaccine nationalism, a newly-coined term in light of the pandemic, occurs when countries aggressively secure vaccines from pharmaceutical companies – limiting jab availability for other nations.

“Despite our one-hundred-year-old investment in CSL, there are developing gaps in our ability to produce vaccines onshore. Without the ability to produce new vaccines onshore, Australia and the region remain vulnerable to supply shocks,” the submission reads.

“Investing in nucleic acid-based technology platforms offers a way to mitigate this risk.”

The A explained that nucleic-based technology platforms will allow manufacturers to modify vaccine formulation, taking into new COVID-19 mutations should they arise.

While the nation can manufacture other vaccine components such as adjuvants used to boost the efficacy of the dose, Australia is still incapable of mass producing the nuclei-acid based technology part of the vaccine.

“The issues with this is that there is a long lag time between determining likely mutations and producing a new vaccine for the mutant virus strains,” the Academy revealed.

The Academy’s other key recommendations to the Australian Government are as follows:

  • Maintain sovereign capabilities in research and development by establishing a research translation fund to support research not covered by the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).
  • Conduct a review of higher education funding rates for university teaching of STEM subjects 12 months after implementing the Job-ready Graduates Package.
  • Continue to provide the evidence base to the Australian Government through the Rapid Research Information Forum (RRIF) by investing in its operations and the learned academies’ policy capability.
  • Work with Taxonomy Australia to develop a mission to discover all species within a generation, commencing with a full cost-benefit exercise.

“Only by drawing on science can we prepare for future national emergencies and generate the knowledge the will propel Australia for years to come,” the Academy said.

“Without these capabilities, Australian Government priorities such as the Technology Investment Roadmap will not be implemented and the ambition of the Modern Manufacturing Strategy no achieved.”