NSW Government looks to lead the way with mRNA vaccines

Westmead Vaccination Hub vaccination starts. First jab being prepared

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has brought together the State’s leading experts in mRNA technology as NSW looks to create a new medical manufacturing and research industry.

Ms Berejiklian, Health Minister Brad Hazzard and NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant yesterday met with experts including NSW Chief Scientist Hugh Durrant-Whyte to discuss the capacity of NSW to manufacture mRNA vaccines.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use mRNA technology. However, Australia currently has no long-form RNA manufacturing capacity.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the pandemic has shown us how the private sector, universities and the NSW Government can work together to produce world-leading technology, new-generation therapies and life-changing research.

“NSW is well placed to provide the advanced manufacturing workforce training, the scientific expertise and the physical location of a future RNA-based manufacturing hub.”

“The state has an established advanced manufacturing capability and is well placed to be the home of mRNA manufacturing in Australia.”

Unlike traditional vaccines which use an inactivated virus, messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines teach cells how to make protein that triggers an immune response which provides protection from the real virus.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said RNA technology is projected to be a crucial tool in next generation vaccines, therapies and diagnostics.

“The success of RNA technology in rapidly developing a COVID-19 vaccine is just one early indicator of the potential of this technology to advance medicine,” Mr Hazzard said.

Hugh Durrant-Whyte, NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer said NSW has significant research expertise in RNA technologies that would benefit from stronger partnerships between academia and industry.

“NSW has world-leading research expertise in RNA, vaccine development and genetic therapies. Our objective is to translate this expertise into commercial medical manufacturing outcomes for the benefit of all,” Professor Durrant-Whyte said.

NSW is home to nationally and globally significant programs of genomic medicine development, particularly in the fields of gene therapy, gene-modified cell therapy and RNA therapy. These therapies treat a wide range of conditions including genetic diseases, cancers, infectious diseases and cardiac conditions.

NSW already has capabilities in the advanced manufacture of viral vectors, plasmids and short-form RNA, which are key technologies used for these therapies. The addition of mRNA capacity to this manufacturing network would significantly strengthen local research and development programs.

COVID-19 vaccinations will become available in phases. This means groups of people will receive the vaccination at different times.

To check when you will be eligible, you can visit https://covid-vaccine.healthdirect.gov.au/eligibility