Government selects Moderna for onshore mRNA vaccine facility

19 December 2021 2 min. read

Biotech company Moderna will build an onshore mRNA vaccine manufacturing plant in Victoria after being selected by the government.

After a lengthy selection period, the Australian federal government has chosen US pharmaceuticals giant Moderna as its preferred onshore mRNA vaccine manufacturer, with the slated facility to be built in Victoria and up and running by 2024. McKinsey & Company has been supporting the process since the beginning of the year, including in the development of the initial business case for local production.

Once in operation, the sovereign manufacturing facility will be capable of producing 100 million mRNA vaccines per year, including priority access to respiratory vaccines for any potential future pandemics and protection against the seasonal flu. After fielding expressions of interest since May, Moderna was ultimately selected ahead of Pfizer and Melbourne-headquartered biotechnology company CSL.

Government selects Moderna for onshore mRNA vaccine facility

“Moderna will become a vital part of Australia’s mRNA research and development landscape, bringing investment and opportunities for the entire research sector,” commented finance minister Simon Birmingham. “This investment will mean world-leading clinical trials, a strong local workforce and creating opportunities through supply chain activities, helping to drive Australia’s economy forward.”

Awarded late last year (but not publicly revealed on AusTender until April), McKinsey was first contracted for the local mRNA business case, before landing a second contract to aid the government with its approach to market process. Following that, and running until the 20th of this month, the firm won a third contract in October, with the three assignments together worth almost $7 million.

While the original McKinsey business case report will be kept from the public, the Industry department recently revealed that the management consultancy has been providing specialist pharmaceutical industry knowledge, as well as expertise on mRNA vaccine technology and professional modelling and analytics. It also stated that eight McKinsey staff had been working on the project of late.

Meanwhile, McKinsey and Moderna share reasonably close ties, with Moderna president Steve Hodge, who oversees all of the company’s research & development activities, a former partner in McKinsey’s New York office. McKinsey was also brought in to help guide Moderna’s research direction in its early days.