Covid-19 Manufacturing Roundup: Thermo Fisher plant ramps up AstraZeneca vaccine production; Novavax expands Korean manufacturing pact
Shortly after Thermo Fisher’s $878.2 million buyout of Novasep’s viral vector manufacturing business, it took over a plant in Belgium tasked with producing adenovirus vectors for AstraZeneca’s version of the Covid-19 shot.
That production agreement was instigated when Novasep was still in charge, and the plant shouldered much of the blame for the oft-publicized slowdown of vaccine output in recent weeks. Now that Thermo Fisher has taken over, though, the plant has “drastically” ramped up its production of late, Reuters reported Wednesday.
European Union industry commissioner Thierry Breton said the production capacity at the factory that produced shots for AstraZeneca had “drastically” increased, Reuters said.
A report in the Wall Street Journal had singled out the Belgian plant as the source of the delay in production that had pitted AstraZeneca against the EU at times recently, reporting that the plant had only been producing a third of the yield the vaccine maker was expecting. —Conner Mitchell
Korea’s SK vaccine sub snags deal to ramp up a supply of 40M doses of Novavax’s Covid-19 jab
Under the new agreement, SK Bioscience now has a license to manufacture and commercialize NVX-CoV2373. That is being added to a technology transfer pact related to the manufacturing of Novavax’s protein antigen, supply of Matrix M adjuvant, with added support for SK Bioscience as needed to secure regulatory approval.
SK concurrently struck an agreement to supply the Korean government with 40 million doses of the vaccine, which has cleared an interim review in the UK, with Phase III data coming up in the US.
“We are honored to continue to manufacture Novavax’s innovative COVID-19 vaccine and provide a supply to the Korean Government through this agreement,” said Jaeyong Ahn, the CEO of SK Bioscience. —John Carroll
Japan’s Kaneka Eurogentec gains GMP accreditation to produce mRNA vaccines
Japan’s Kaneka Eurogentec, bolstered by a recent deal to manufacture doses of Inovio’s Covid-19 vaccine, now has a new accolade in its portfolio.
Eurogentec’s new facility in Seraing, Belgium has received GMP accreditation for manufacturing mRNA, the key component of many Covid-19 vaccines currently on the market and a close counterpart to Inovio’s plasmid DNA-based vaccine for the respiratory virus.
The Belgian facility will initially allow Kaneka Eurogentec to produce and purify up to a 10g scale — or 1 million vaccine doses — of RNA that can be used in both clinical trials and the commercial supply chain, and can potentially be expanded further. —Conner Mitchell
Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech ink deals for millions of more vaccine doses in EU
The European Commission this week inked deals with Moderna and Pfizer for a total of 350 million more vaccine doses, to be delivered throughout 2021. Moderna’s total commitment now sits at 310 million doses in 2021, and as part of the new agreement, the EU also holds the option to buy another 150 million doses for delivery in 2022.
The deal also will supply 200 million more doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and the new additional doses will bring the EU’s total supply up to 500 million. More biotechs are jumping in to assist Pfizer-BioNTech with development, including Merck KGaA, which says it can accelerate its supply of custom lipids.
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