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‘We’ll take it’: Countries line up to take CSL’s AstraZeneca vaccine

Biotechnology giant CSL says its Australian-made AstraZeneca vaccines will not go to waste with other countries eager to take its finished doses after the government restricted the jab to people over 60.

The $130 billion biotech will finish its 50 million dose run of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the first months of 2022 and then plans to turn its focus to big investments that will help support the nation through future pandemics.

CSL Behring’s new domestic plasma fractionation facility in Broadmeadows. $900 million has been invested in the project, which will ultimately process more than 9 million litres of plasma a year.

CSL Behring’s new domestic plasma fractionation facility in Broadmeadows. $900 million has been invested in the project, which will ultimately process more than 9 million litres of plasma a year. Credit:Eddie Jim

Senior vice president of operations at CSL’s vaccine arm Seqirus, Chris Larkins, said even though the government’s latest advice to restrict the vaccine to those over 60 had reduced demand in Australia, he expected the doses would be used overseas.

He said governments of other nations had been calling to say “we’ll take it”.

“This product will be manufactured, it will go to other countries who probably need it more than we do anyway and it will go to save lives in those countries,” Mr Larkins said.

The Australian government has the final say in where surplus doses are distributed.

Once CSL finishes production, it will turn its focus to other investments that could help support the country during future health crises.

The company’s planned $800 million cell-based vaccine plant at Tullamarine in Melbourne is on track to open in the middle of 2026. It will produce cell-based influenza vaccines, which have significant production advantages over CSL’s current egg-based doses, which have to be planned more than 18 months in advance.

Mr Larkins said there were no plans to build production capacity for mRNA vaccines at the site at the moment. However, CSL is in talks with government and is considering whether it could “potentially provide something that could be valuable for Australia” in the mRNA area.

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