Biotechnology giant CSL will spend more than $800 million building a new vaccine manufacturing plant at the Melbourne Airport Business Park, with operations expected to start in 2026.
The plant, which will utilise cell-based mass production techniques, complements the company’s existing vaccine production capabilities which are based on growing vaccines in chicken eggs – a technology in use since the 1940s.
The new plant will be built by CSL’s vaccine subsidiary, Seqirus, and will produce influenza vaccine as well as the world’s only Q-Fever vaccine and anti-venom for local snakes, spiders and marine creatures.
Seqirus general manager Stephen Marlow said: “For more than 100 years CSL has been on the front line of the fight against influenza and we are excited to work with Victoria’s world-class talent to deliver the next generation of influenza vaccine technology to Australia.”
The investment is the biggest made in the local pharmaceutical sector since the construction of CSL Behring’s $230 million Broadmeadows plant which produces albumin, part of the company’s global plasma manufacturing supply chain.
That plant received significant investment from the Victorian government, with the new plant similarly supported by the state.
Minister for Industry Support and Recovery Martin Pakula did not reveal the extent of state government backing.
He said: “The Victorian Government is proud to have provided significant support to secure this vital facility in Melbourne, which will support hundreds of jobs and many more in the supply chain.
“This investment is a significant coup for Victoria.
“It positions the state as a global leader in cell-based influenza vaccine production and further boosts our capabilities in R&D, commercialisation and advanced manufacturing.”
The investment by CSL has been made following significant earlier assistance provided to the company by the federal government.
Canberra has provided funds to expand existing vaccine production capabilities and signed a number of agreements with international groups vying to supply a Covid-19 vaccine to Australia to help hold back the pandemic.
CSL announced a week ago the go ahead for production of a Covid-19 vaccine in Melbourne.
The first vaccine supplies will be available in early 2021, depending on the results of clinical trials now underway.