The Australian state of Victoria on Wednesday unveiled plans to develop a plant to produce vaccines on land via messenger-RNA (mRNA) and launched three mass coronavirus immunization centers to speed up the national vaccination program.
Victoria would initially spend $ 50 million ($ 39 million) to set up mRNA in the state, which authorities said could become the first such center in the southern hemisphere. MRNA technology is used in COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer (PFE.N) and Modern (MRNA.O).
The Australian drive for immunization was thrown into disarray earlier this month after the government restricted the use of the COVID-19 vaccine against AstraZeneca, which uses a different technology and is the mainstay in the country for blood vaccination. read more
“It is vital that we can develop and produce mRNA vaccines and treatments locally to ensure the safety of vaccines here in Australia and across our region,” Acting Victoria Prime Minister James Merlino said in a statement.
Several countries are trying to obtain more COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Modern Inc., which use mRNA technology, as no major side effects have been identified in vaccine recipients so far. read more
Reports of possible links between vaccines from AstraZeneca (AZN.L) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) and rare blood clotting problems have left those recordings out. read more
Australia currently produces AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines in the country, but earlier this month it limited its introduction to people over the age of 50. read more
Merlino said that he linked the plan with the federal government and estimated that the costs of building the power plant could amount to “hundreds of millions of dollars”. It could take at least a year for vaccines to be made in the country, he said.
Meanwhile, Victoria set up three mass immunization centers in the state on Wednesday to administer AstraZeneca vaccines to people over the age of 70.
Although Australia fared much better than many other developed countries during the pandemic, with about 29,500 cases and 910 deaths, only about 1.70 million doses have been used so far, far less than the 4 million promised by the end of March.
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