SaudiVax and MilliporeSigma team up to manufacture domestic vaccine for the Arabian peninsula
As Saudi Arabia works to get its domestically-produced vaccines into the arms of residents, it’s enlisted the help of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany to take on manufacturing duties.
MilliporeSigma, the US and Canadian life science division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and SaudiVax will first conceptualize the process and determine the equipment needed before fitting out the facility and working out process development. SaudiVax employees will head to France to train at Merck’s end-to-end GMP site in Martillac, and its M Lab Collaboration Center in Mosheim.
“With more than 30 years of experience designing, building and operating our own global CDMO network, we are pleased to support SaudiVax in fulfilling its mission to localize the development and manufacturing of vaccines and therapeutics in Saudi Arabia,” Sébastien Ribault, head of end-to-end CDMO Services at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, said in a press release. “This partnership brings together our shared commitment to expand access to life-saving and life-enhancing therapies.”
Saudi Arabia has been what Bloomberg News called a “dystopia for opponents of vaccine requirements.” As the Delta variant sent other countries back into lockdown, Saudi officials have made vaccinations practically a necessity, refusing service at grocery stores, schools, travel abroad and disallowing workers to return to work without vaccinations.
The vaccines will be Halal and permitted under Islamic law, making SaudiVax the first to produce such a jab. To do so, it will leverage the company’s single-use technology and focus on international regulatory requirements.
As of Tuesday, almost 70% of Saudis have received at least one jab of the vaccine, and 21.6 million people have been fully vaccinated. The country’s worst Covid-19 infection stretch happened in June 2020, when nearly 4,300 people a day were infected at its high point. Since September, the country has averaged fewer than 100 new cases a day.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify the company, MilliporeSigma, a division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, involved in the deal.