CSL sticking to AstraZeneca vaccine plan

Australian pharmaceutical giant CSL will reassess its ability to manufacture other coronavirus vaccines after it finishes pumping out 50 million doses of the AstraZeneca drug.

A CSL spokeswoman said the company carefully considered its ability to simultaneously manufacture the Novavax and AstraZeneca vaccines at the request of the federal government.

“Unfortunately we do not have the capacity or capability to manufacture two COVID-19 vaccines involving live viruses,” she told AAP on Thursday.

“Following completion of the manufacture of 50 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine campaign, CSL would, if requested by the Australian government, reassess its ability to manufacture other vaccines such as the Novavax vaccine.”

The imported Pfizer vaccine is expected to be the first rolled out in Australia with the government buying enough doses for up to five million people.

The majority of the population will then be offered the AstraZeneca jab, mostly being produced in Melbourne, with both still waiting for approval.

Australia also has a deal for more than 50 million doses of the Novavax candidate but its stage three trial data isn’t expected to be released until later in the year.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg isn’t concerned about Australia’s vaccine portfolio, which relies on domestic manufacturing and imports.

“Australia is in a very good position when it comes to the rollout of those vaccines,” he told reporters in Victoria.

“Importantly, the vaccine has to be safe and the chief medical officer yesterday testified to that effect, as well as the TGA approval process, which is currently under way.”

Labor frontbencher Tony Burke said the opposition had pushed the government to develop vaccine contracts.

“The government has been slow to act at every stage when it’s come to the issue of the vaccine,” he told reporters in Sydney.

Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said Novavax was showing strong performance in the stage three trials being conducted in the US.

“I have a very strong feeling that Novavax or one of the other protein vaccines will be the long-term option for vaccination for the world,” he said.

“But they take longer to be manufactured and longer therefore for the data to come through about safety, quality, and efficacy.”

Professor Kelly said the AstraZeneca vaccine would save lives because it prevented all death and serious illness.

Johnson and Johnson has applied for a provisional designation with Australia’s medicines regulator.

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