11th August 2022 – (Canberra) Australia’s national science agency has established a new lab to boost the ability to produce vaccines as the country continues to battle against the wave of Omicron sub-variant infections in winter.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and Ed Husic, the federal Minister for Industry and Science, on Thursday opened the National Vaccine and Therapeutics Lab.
The 23.1 million Australian dollars (16.3 million U.S. dollar) lab, based in Melbourne, will turn drug and vaccine candidates into products that can be manufactured for clinical trials.
It comes after the CSIRO scaled up the COVID-19 vaccine candidates in the early stages of the pandemic.
Larry Marshall, chief executive of the CSIRO, described the new facility as the missing link in Australia’s ability to produce vaccines and drugs.
“The problem facing our biomedical industry has been that most vaccine and drug candidates needed to be sent overseas to be produced in large quantities for clinical trials, adding burdensome costs that have crushed many Australian businesses and researchers as the invention languishes on the lab bench,” he said in a media release.
The lab will be open to private companies to produce a range of biologics including peptides, viral products and recombinant proteins.
“Our team at the lab will produce drugs in partnership with local industry and enable our partners to progress to both phase one and phase two clinical trials in Australia, and also has the necessary accreditation for Australian companies to participate in clinical trials globally,” Susie Nilsson, Research Director for Biomedical Manufacturing, said.
The announcement came when the wave of Omicron sub-variant infections continued in the current winter months.
As of Wednesday afternoon, a total of 9,711,908 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Australia, including 12,568 deaths, and approximately 257,107 active cases, according to the latest data from the Department of Health.
There were 4,343 cases being treated in Australian hospitals on Wednesday, including 125 in intensive care units.
On Thursday, Australia reported more than 15,000 new COVID-19 cases and more than 40 deaths.