What will happen to CSL 50 million vaccine production?

Australia now recommends adults under 50 years of age in the country not receive the AstraZeneca vaccine – the only vaccine Australia had managed to secure sufficient supply of, given CSL has been producing it in Melbourne.

Although now unlikely to be needed in the original quantities,  CSL (ASX:CSL; USOTC:CSLLY) still remains contracted to make 50 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. It is the only company capable of producing vaccines onshore currently, and the local production was seen as an main part of the nation’s vaccine rollout plan.

CSL says it respects the decision announced by the government, and reiterates that blood clotting is “an extremely rare” side effect of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“CSL remains committed to meeting its contracted arrangements with the Australian Government and AstraZeneca for locally produced AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines. We will continue our focused and important efforts to manufacture this vaccine which remains critical for the protection of our most vulnerable populations.

We are proud of our unique role in Australia as the only onshore manufacturer that can produce this vaccine and remain dedicated to our ongoing contribution towards this effort”, CSL said in a statement after the Australian government’s decision was announced.

CSL is manufacturing the AstraZeneca vaccine at two sites in suburban Melbourne. CSL-Behring Australia in Broadmeadows makes the active raw vaccine material, while the final vaccine doses are produced and vials filled and packaged at Seqirus in Parkville.

There are unconfirmed reports CSL might now be retooled to manufacture a different COVID vaccine – likely a non-mRNA vaccine .

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are a new type of vaccines made using messenger RNA, or mRNA, a technology that delivers a bit of genetic code to cells — in effect, a recipe to make the surface protein (known as spike) against the virus.

The AstraZeneca vaccine uses a chimpanzee adenovirus vaccine vector. This is a harmless, weakened adenovirus that usually causes the common cold in chimpanzees. It has been genetically changed so that it is impossible for it to grow in humans.