Plan for $1bn Aussie vaccine factory
A mega vaccine production plant will be created to ensure vaccines for future flu pandemics can be quickly made in Australia, it will be announced today.
It follows Health Minister Greg Hunt indicating tough measures like "no jab, no pay" for a COVID-19 vaccine won't be needed if enough Australians take it up voluntarily.
Construction on the $1 billion Melbourne-based vaccine facility will start next year, but it will take five years before it is operational.
It will be able to make influenza-type vaccines as well as antivenoms to treat bites from some of the country's deadliest snakes, spiders and jellyfish.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it would protect against "future threats" and give Australia the sovereign capability to develop vaccines on home soil when needed.
"Just as major defence equipment must be ordered well in advance, this is an investment in our national health security against future pandemics," he said.
Industry Minister Karen Andrews said being able to manufacture products at home had been a major asset for Australia during the pandemic, when global supply chains were stretched to the limit.
While it is focused on influenza and Q-Fever vaccines, it is understood in the case of another global emergency it could be adjusted to create inoculations for other viruses if required.
Seqirus, linked to CSL creating two of the COVID vaccines in Australia, will invest $800 million to create the facility, while the Federal Government will spent $1 billion over 12 years to secure long-term access to supplies of critical health products like influenza vaccines and antivenoms.
The National Cabinet on Friday signed off on a countrywide roll out plan for a COVID-19 vaccine, which included reserving the right to introduce a requirement for a "proof of vaccination" for entry into the country.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said the Government would leave it to the experts to decide whether to implement measures like that or a no jab, no pay scheme if needed to get COVID-19 vaccination levels up.
"We've been very careful to focus on the voluntary nature of this. I'm not going to suddenly rule things out," he said.
"We're expecting very wide take up. There are always options which have been reserved."
Meanwhile, Education Minister Dan Tehan says state's have to the end of the month to submit plans for a return of international students to the country, but warned Australians returning home would be given first priority.
Queensland universities together with Study Queensland have submitted a plan to the state's chief health officer, but it has yet to be assessed.
Originally published as Plan for $1bn vaccine factory