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Blocked vaccine shipment makes the case for domestic production

Media Release
Adam Bandt 5 Mar 2021

The Greens say that halted shipments of Astra Zeneca vaccines from Europe show the risks of relying on international supply chains to inoculate Australians, extending their call for the government to establish a publicly-owned vaccine production centre.

News of a quarter of a million doses due for Australia being blocked has exposed the risks caused by the privatisation and winding down of Australia’s domestic vaccine production capabilities over decades.

“Australia can’t be reliant on imports from big drug companies, hoping that the supply chain isn’t disrupted in a global pandemic,” Bandt said

“We need to make sure that people here are rapidly vaccinated, and that we’re able to play our role in supplying vaccines to the Pacific.

“We need a publicly-owned mRNA vaccine manufacturer in Australia.

“Scientists and health experts have backed the Greens call for Australia to build its own domestic mRNA vaccine manufacturing capacity.

We are calling on the Government and Labor party to accept this needs to be done now. “In addition to suring up supply of the Astra Zeneca vaccine, Australia needs to develop domestic mRNA technology which is easier to adapt to new strains of Covid-19. “With publicly-owned domestic manufacturing capacity, we won’t just be able to make sure that everyone here is inoculated against new pandemics as they come, but we’ll be a vaccine production hub for the region.”

Greens spokesperson on Health Senator Rachel Siewert said:

“This difficulty with international supply chains is a clear example of why the Government should have already started building a more diverse vaccine portfolio.

We don’t want to go down the ugly and dangerous road of vaccine nationalism.

If Europe continues with the approach of banning exports of vaccines they risk extending the pandemic because no one is safe until everyone is safe.

Australia should commit to increasing its funding to the COVAX AMC to at least the level of Canada (an additional $135.2m USD).

This could also include calling on big pharma to temporarily waive intellectual property rights on Covid-19 vaccines to facilitate universal access.”

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