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Vaccine maker Moderna looks to tap into local research talent

The company has submitted data for the product to the US FDA and European medicines regulator.

Moderna had not brought a product to market before the pandemic, but has grown into a $US173 billion company through its successful use of messenger-RNA technology to make COVID-19 vaccines.

The biotech also has a broad pipeline of other research projects, including cancer vaccines and cardiovascular treatments as well as plans for a combined influenza and coronavirus vaccine.

Dr Burton said there was strong potential for the company to work with Australian researchers on these projects and potentially undertake trials of the COVID-influenza vaccine here.

“It [flu] is a seasonal disease so as the Southern Hemisphere goes into winter, we’d definitely be looking to do research and Australia is a great centre for us,” he said.

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“We have a whole rare diseases research and development team – cardiovascular, auto-immune and then cancer… I think the expertise in those areas in Australia is remarkable.”

The company’s top priority at the moment is delivering doses of its original coronavirus vaccine across globe. The first shipment of Australia’s Moderna doses arrived overnight, with 1 million doses expected to land in September and then 3 million in October, November and December.

An additional 15 million doses of “booster or variant-specific” vaccines will be delivered throughout 2022. Dr Burton said timing of deliveries would depend on the state of the nation’s rollout.

Australia is on its way to hitting its 70 per cent vaccination target, with 81.2 per cent of New South Wales residents having received a first dose, while 70.5 per cent of Victorians have had one shot.

Dr Burton said those numbers are figures “the country should be proud of”, but cautioned that the battle against the pandemic is far from over.

“It is a war that we’re in. We’ve won many battles, but I think looking forward, we can’t give up yet, we can’t rest on our laurels. There are still battles to go. This thing is not defeated, it is a very, very fit virus and we still have a road ahead of us,” he said.

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