Looking to prepare for the next flu pandemic, Sanofi drops $700M+ into new Toronto facility for Fluzone production
With Covid-19 variants potentially sticking around in the human population for years to come and clogging up hospitals, public health officials are spotlighting the need for effective flu vaccination campaigns into the future. French drugmaker Sanofi, the maker of the world’s bestselling flu vaccine Fluzone, is now dropping a major investment into its supply chain.
Sanofi will shell out more than $703 million to build a new manufacturing facility in Toronto, the company announced Wednesday. The facility will be used to increase the supply of Fluzone, a high-dose flu vaccine, and has the potential to enhance pandemic preparedness should another occur, the drugmaker said.
“We welcome the ongoing partnership with the Canadian authorities, who supported us to make today’s great news a reality,” Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson said in a statement. “This will make the country, which has a strong legacy in vaccines research and development, one of our key hubs in our effort to protect and improve human health across the globe.”
Partly due to the Covid-19 pandemic, more Americans have received a flu shot during the 2020-2021 flu season than last year, according to data from the CDC. The news comes as the outlook toward the flu vaccines evolves. Last Wednesday, a paper published in Nature noted that scientists are looking to discover a universal flu vaccine that could protect against any strain of the virus, year-round, for up to 3-5 years. A Phase I trial is set to start in April, and by the end of the year, the technology could have four vaccines in the NIH clinic.
The vaccine is currently manufactured at Sanofi’s Swiftwater, PA facility. In 2019, the company entered a $226 million agreement with US Health and Human Services to ramp-up production of the vaccine.
“The question is not if, but when the next influenza pandemic will occur, carrying potentially devastating consequences for public health and the US economy,” said BARDA director Rick Bright, in a 2019 release.