Australia must share vaccine info: expert

·2-min read

Australia is being urged to share complex coronavirus vaccine production methods with poorer nations to help ease desperate supply shortages around the world.

Australian National University professor Susan Sell has also called for the federal government to waive intellectual property protections for vaccines.

She wants it to be mandatory for pharmaceutical companies to share production methods and send someone into the field for hands-on development.

"Australia has an opportunity to negotiate agreements for a waiver for patent rights, but it's not enough," Professor Sell said on Friday.

"Vaccines are complicated to produce. It's not like having a recipe where you can go off on your own and make it; you really need to have the chef in the kitchen."

Australian pharmaceutical giant CSL is manufacturing about 50 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Melbourne.

Federal and state government are also pursuing facilities to produce mRNA jabs like Pfizer and Moderna but getting them up and running could take years.

Vaccine supply issues are hampering Australia's rollout which is heavily reliant on Pfizer imports.

The situation is similar in poorer virus-ravaged countries dealing with catastrophic outbreaks of the contagious Delta variant.

Professor Sell said low-income countries couldn't get vaccines because rich nations had bought more supply than was needed.

"The hoarders should donate vaccines immediately to low-income countries ravaged by the delta variant," she said.

"Australia must follow in the footsteps of the US and others by throwing its support behind a waiver on COVID vaccine patents at the World Trade Organisation."

The governance and regulation expert said countries like India, South Africa, South Korea and Brazil had the capacity to produce vaccines if major companies allowed it.

She also joined calls for Australia to expand its vaccine portfolio to help guard against emerging coronavirus strains.

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