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Australian mRNA vaccine manufacturer shortlist expected within days

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Health Minister Greg Hunt says the federal government is in the advanced stages of determining a shortlist of companies to take on the role of manufacturing mRNA vaccines in Australia.

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Australia currently imports all such mRNA vaccines, like Pfizer, and only manufactures AstraZeneca doses domestically.

The federal government opened an approach to market offering grant monies for onshore mRNA vaccine manufacturing on May 21

The approach to market was open until July 16. Hopeful bidders initially expected a decision by the end of August although this never materialised.

“I am expecting an announcement on the shortlist this week,” Hunt told reporters in Canberra on Sunday.

A consortium led by biologics contract development and manufacturing firm BioCina, who own a 4600m2 manufacturing facility in Thebarton, was the only company in South Australia to respond to the approach to market.

BioCina, a subsidiary of US private investment firm Bridgewest Holdings, claims the plant is “the most advanced facility of its kind in Australia”.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said it was a year ago the government said mRNA vaccine manufacturing would be advanced in Australia in nine to 12 months.

“The 12 months is up and what we have, once again, from the government is too little, too late. They’re too slow. They’re always behind. Never leading, always following,” he told reporters.

However, he did welcome the government’s two new vaccination campaigns – one aimed at getting the final 10-15 per cent of Australians jabbed and the other focused on Indigenous people.

“This was one of the points that we were making many months ago,” Albanese said.

“We were told … the reason why ads weren’t being played was because there weren’t enough vaccines.”

The campaigns come as Australia passed 34.2 million vaccinations, reaching nearly 87 per cent first dose coverage for those aged 16 and above and more than 73 per cent fully vaccinated with two doses.

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