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More local vaccine production still on agenda

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Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt says Australia still intends to manufacture mRNA COVID-19 vaccines locally, notwithstanding the progress of the nation’s jab rollout.

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At the moment, mRNA vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna have to be imported from overseas, with the AstraZeneca jab the only one manufactured in Australia by biotech giant CSL in Melbourne.

The Morrison Government put out an approach to market for local mRNA vaccine manufacturing on May 21 this year.

Submissions for the federal grant monies closed on July 16, with an expert advisory panel assessing the applications.

Biologics contract development and manufacturing firm BioCina, who own a 4600m2 facility in Thebarton, was the only company to apply to manufacture vaccines in South Australia.

“mRNA vaccine production in Australia is our goal and intention and that is exactly what we’re doing at the moment,” Hunt told reporters on Sunday.

“We are working on a number of fronts but we’re making progress and I am confident that we will be in a position to say more in the coming months about this if not earlier.”

Australia has 60 million doses of Pfizer ordered for 2022 and 50 million doses of Moderna.

Still, the country is making progress in its vaccination rollout with doses it now has to hand.

The health minister said 75.8 per cent of people aged 16 and over have now had their first dose of a vaccine and 51.5 per cent are fully covered with two jabs.

In South Australia, 65.9 per cent of over-16s have had one dose while 47.5 per cent are fully vaccinated.

Younger Australians have also been quick to roll up their sleeves, with more than 27 per cent of 12 to 15-year-olds – 340,000 – having come forward to be vaccinated.

-with AAP

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