Second local vaccine manufacturer push comes late

By Peter Roberts

Pharmaceutical manufacturer IDT Australia is undertaking a feasibility study to assess the possibility of supplementing production of the Covid-19 vaccine in Australia.

IDT will assess the possibility of using its sterile production facilities to supplement local supplies, following a Department of Health request.

This comes as the federal government is being criticised for a slow and poorly planned rollout of vaccination.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration gave approval for CSL to manufacture the AstraZeneca vaccine in Melbourne in a statement released on Sunday. See separate story here.

Less than one per cent of the Australian population has been vaccinated, while some countries such as Israel are already at 109 per cent, the UK is at 43 and the United States at 36.

Only 240,000 Australians have been vaccinated – 1.0 per cent of the population, about the same level as Cambodia and Senegal.

The federal Department of Health’s Australian vaccine agreements webpage updated in February said there would be “10 million doses available from early 2021.”

This is simply not the case, and only partly because the European Union has restricted 250,000 doses from being exported to Australia.

Australia is now, apparently, solely reliant on manufacture of the Astea/Zeneca vaccine at CSL in Melbourne.

Yet, as @AuManufacturing reported in August, IDT Australia responded back then to federal government appeals.

IDT said in August it was capable and prepared to manufacture Covid-19 vaccines.

CEO David Sparling said then: “IDT has already been involved in the government’s response during the initial phase of the Covid-19 crisis.

“IDT has made a submission to (the federal government’s) request for information because we want to continue to play a role in Australia’s Covid-19 response.”

Seven months ago the Health Department asked for and was offered additional vaccine manufacturing facilities.

Apparently it did nothing.

Australian manufacturing is often criticised.

But in the case of the Covid-19 vaccine it was capable, it had the facilities, it was ready to respond, but it was simply not given the chance until this past week.

Manufacturing was simply not given a go.

Picture: IDT Australia

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