Biotech giant CSL will start manufacturing a coronavirus vaccine for a planned release in the first half of 2021, pending the outcome of clinical trials and regulatory approval.
The announcement came as Melbourne scrapped its so-called “ring of steel” lockdown from midnight after Victoria extended its run of days without a new COVID-19 case to nine.
CSL will start producing the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine candidate at its advanced manufacturing facility in Victoria from Monday.
It has separate contracts with AstraZeneca and the Australian government to manufacture approximately 30 million doses of the vaccine candidate.
“This is an important milestone and marks the end of many months of around-the-clock preparation by our skilled personnel globally,” CSL’s chief scientific officer, Andrew Nash said in a statement.
“There’s still a long way to go and our first priority resolutely remains the safety and efficacy of the vaccines we produce.”
The vaccine will not be released for use until the relevant clinical trial and manufacturing data are reviewed and approved by the Australian government regulatory authority, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
Meanwhile, Premier Daniel Andrews says a 25km travel limit on city residents and Melbourne’s “ring of steel” will be taken down from midnight.
“Victoria will be once again united as one single state,” he told reporters on Sunday.
“The 25km travel limit will go, the Melbourne-regional Victoria border comes down, families will be able to be together again.”
Among other changes, 70 people will be allowed outdoors at hospitality venues and 40 people indoors subject to density limits.
The next step on easing hospitality restrictions would be taken in a few weeks.
The Australian Industry Group welcomed the further easing of restrictions, noting increased workforce numbers for manufacturers meant businesses could return to more normal arrangements and ramp up production in the lead-up to Christmas.
“Other states should now reopen their borders to Victoria as the state has achieved nine consecutive days of zero cases in what is a remarkable turnaround,” Victorian head of the Ai Group Tim Piper said.
Meanwhile, NSW reported three new COVID-19 cases, but all were overseas travellers in hotel quarantine.
There were no locally transmitted infections.
“We continue to urge anyone with even the mildest of symptoms to seek testing immediately, then remain in isolation until a negative result is received,” NSW Health’s Dr Michael Douglas said.
Australian Associated Press