Bejon Haswell / Stuff
Dr William Rolleston and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the South Pacific Greenhouse in Washdyke when they visited the area in September 2020.
The co-founder and co-director of a Timaru biotech company says it has the capacity to produce enough Covid-19 vaccines to supply New Zealand and the Pacific.
Dr William Rolleston from South Pacific Greenhouse said: Thing As of Thursday, there was no assurance that a successful vaccine would be produced, while the company had “capacity to serve New Zealand requirements and the Pacific.”
South Pacific Greenhouse is part of the Vaccine Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand consortium working in New Zealand and the Pacific in collaboration with the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research and the universities of Otago and Victoria to research and develop a Covid vaccine for them. The government invested $35 million in the project.
On Wednesday, the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners called on the Government to ensure that New Zealand can independently produce and develop Covid-19 vaccines.
Group 3 will be able to get their Covid-19 vaccine appointment until the end of the month.
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“While New Zealand has secured access to the current Covid-19 vaccine, evidence shows that the virus is mutating and will likely require regular booster vaccines, such as the flu shot,” said Dr Bryan Betty, the College’s Medical Director.
“We cannot allow ourselves to be pushed around and forgotten in an international fight for access to future vaccines.”
At one point, ingredients like fertilizers had to be imported to grow certain ingredients, Rolleston said.
“An opportunity to vertically integrate raw materials and create flexibility for production here. If there are too many people coming from abroad, we are in the same boat as before.”
Rolleston said producing the vaccine would require some expansion of South Pacific Greenhouse’s Washdyke complex and taking into account constraints such as ongoing contract manufacturing, but the infrastructure was in place.
“We have good capacity and good infrastructure.
“We are happy with the services provided by the community in Timaru – this is the highest rate.”
The company’s co-founder and co-director did not comment on how much money or staff would be needed, citing commercial sensitivity.
“We are already producing vaccines for animals and these need to reach a level similar to human vaccines.
“We have a license to manufacture sterile human drugs.”
He said he believed the government was moving at the right pace on this issue.
“If you look at vaccines produced in the last 18 months, out-of-the-box platforms developed over the last 10-20 years. It would be naive to think that it could be improved overnight.”
He said there is provision under international trade agreements to use patents if needed, rather than launching a vaccine from scratch in a national emergency.
Rolleston said the government is looking at options and doing the right thing by getting vaccines abroad in the short term.
“This is a wake-up call – we need some in-house talent. Another outbreak could be worse.”
South Pacific Greenhouse has been operating in the biological field since 1988.