Moderna has a location to build its mRNA manufacturing facility in Melbourne: it will be built at Monash University, in its Technology Precinct. When can we expect the factory to open, and how much will it be making?
The year when the facility is expected to start making vaccines. Moderna says it’ll be starting to build the facility by the end of this year. It will be making vaccines against respiratory viruses, including COVID-19, influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and possibly others.
The maximum number of mRNA vaccines the facility will be able to produce in a year. That’s nearly two million a week – for contrast, CSL in Melbourne could produce just over one million AstraZeneca COVID vaccines in a week.
The 100 million cap is likely to only be reached during pandemics – in general, the facility is expected to produce more like 25 million vaccines annually.
The estimated number of “highly-skilled” full-time staff who will be required to operate the facility once it’s built. Manufacture of mRNA vaccines is a different ball game to traditional vaccines – it uses different materials and biological processes. While Australian manufacturers aren’t starting from scratch (there’s another facility capable of mRNA production currently operating in Adelaide, for instance) there will need to be some training and education involved.
The approximate amount of money the government is investing in the facility. We don’t know the exact cost of the deal made by the former federal government and Moderna. It was estimated by The Australian to be around $2 billion. The Victorian government had previously invested $50 million in an mRNA manufacture facility, and the federal government had also committed “up to $25 million” into mRNA infrastructure research.
The number of years the partnership will run. Moderna will also be establishing its headquarters in Victoria.
The number of vaccines currently in Moderna’s mRNA pipeline – that is, mRNA vaccines that are being developed by the company. These vaccines all need to get through a raft of safety tests and clinical trials before being used publicly, so it’s unlikely that all 28 will end up on the market.
Ellen Phiddian is a science journalist at Cosmos. She has a BSc (Honours) in chemistry and science communication, and an MSc in science communication, both from the Australian National University.
Read science facts, not fiction...
There’s never been a more important time to explain the facts, cherish evidence-based knowledge and to showcase the latest scientific, technological and engineering breakthroughs. Cosmos is published by The Royal Institution of Australia, a charity dedicated to connecting people with the world of science. Financial contributions, however big or small, help us provide access to trusted science information at a time when the world needs it most. Please support us by making a donation or purchasing a subscription today.