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CSL to bring ‘next-generation’ mRNA flu vaccines to Australia

CSL boss, Paul Perreault. Photo: TAU


Australia’s biotech manufacturing giant, CSL, has signed a new $313 million deal to bring “next-generation” mRNA flu shots to our shores.


mRNA vaccines became headline news during the pandemic thanks to the Pfizer and Moderna’s products, but even as things cool down, the messenger technology itself is not set to go away.

Australia’s biotech giant, CSL, will accelerate investment in messenger-RNA technologies through a $313 million licensing deal with US medicines maker, Arcturus Therapeutics.

The company has been developing “next-generation” mRNA vaccines to “fight influenza and COVID”.

Specifically, it is the CSL Behring and Seqirus divisions that will be responsible for this.


Under the terms of the deal with Arcturus, CSL will have the exclusive licence for the US company’s self-amplifying mRNA vaccine platform technology for use against influenza, COVID-19 and other diseases.

It will also have a non-exclusive licence for “multi-pathogen pandemic preparedness”, which it could choose to make exclusive.

As well as the upfront payment, the company will be entitled to additional payments, based upon certain development milestones being met.

“This collaboration is an exciting opportunity to complement CSL’s own next-generation mRNA program with a partner who developed a platform to deliver late stage clinical supplies at scale. These combined capabilities will accelerate our journey in mRNA.”

CSL chief operating officer Paul McKenzie.

At present, the official narrative states mRNA vaccines give instructions to cells in the body to make a protein, stimulating the immune response and leaving a blueprint to recognise and fight future infection.

Self-amplifying mRNA, the next-generation version of today’s mRNA technology, will instructs the body to replicate mRNA, amplifying the amount of protein made.

Arcturus is currently developing a self-amplifying mRNA vaccine candidate for COVID-19, which has already gone through a Phase 3 trial in the United States.

The never-ending jab story rolls on, and we can now add mRNA flu shots to the ever-growing list of new vaccines coming to Australia.

Handled by entities that don’t exactly have the cleanest track record in this area.


CSL is Australia’s largest and most successful manufacturer and a behemoth in the industry.

The company recently executed a $17.2 billion takeover of a complementary healthcare business, Swiss pharmaceutical manufacturer Vifor.

However, before this massive rise, the group has their beginnings in 1916 as Commonwealth Serum Laboratories (CSL), specifically coming to note during the 1918 ‘flu epidemic’ that swept the world.

Soon after, CSL would collaborate with international scientists on a new vaccine to treat the re-emerging polio virus, which would come off-and-on for about four decades.

Dr Percival Bazeley of CSL was sent to work with Jonas Salk on the polio vaccine in 1952, and returned to Melbourne in 1955 to begin manufacturing the “dead-virus vaccine”.

The first Salk vaccines were distributed across Australia in June 1956, and 25 million doses of the vaccine were produced by CSL under Dr Bazeley’s directorship.

During this time, it would be revealed that CSL and federal government agencies knowingly released polio vaccines that were contaminated to the Australian public.

A live virus contaminated at least four batches of vaccines totalling almost three million doses in Australia between 1956 and 1962.

An investigation revealed documents from the CSL found executives released one batch of about 700,000 doses of contaminated vaccine in 1962 with the understanding that “vaccines issued in the past were probably similarly contaminated“.

Although many decades have passed, some people don’t forget.

According to CSL’s annual reports, the biotech giant has been investing in mRNA vaccines since 2017-2018.

So, it comes as no surprise they are once again in the mix for mRNA in the 21st Century.

The same face, the same agenda, over multiple generations.


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