COVID-19 vaccine makers rejecting outside help to boost production

Several drugmakers have offered to partner with the companies producing COVID-19 vaccines to boost production, but many of the vaccine makers are rejecting the help, Politico reported. 

Biolyse, based in Canada; Incepta, based in Bangladesh; Teva, based in Israel; and Bavarian Nordic, based in Denmark, have all offered to help drugmakers produce their COVID-19 vaccines, but none have signed a deal. 

Drugmakers have turned down the offers, citing the complexity of the manufacturing process, safety concerns and lack of time to train engineers to make the vaccines, Politico reported May 14. 

Kåre Schultz, CEO of Teva, the largest generic drugmaker in the world, said earlier this year the company was looking to help manufacture some of the COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved or are close to approval, Politico reported. 

Biolyse has said it has the potential to make 50 million doses of any COVID-19 vaccine per year and has contacted several vaccine makers, including Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, offering their help. 

Incepta's chairman and managing director, Abdul Muktadir, has said the company can make an antigen used in COVID-19 vaccines and could start production immediately. It has several production lines sitting idle, Politico reported. Mr. Muktadir estimated Incepta could fill vials for about 500 million vaccine doses in a year. 

In many cases, COVID-19 vaccine makers have told the companies they already have sufficient partnership to make the vaccines, Politico reported. John Fulton, a consultant for Biolyse, told Politico that Johnson & Johnson told Biolyse it "had adequate production capacity with the companies that they engaged with." 

Teva and Incepta told Politico their offers were rejected because the vaccine makers wanted to go with either contract manufacturers or other large drugmakers. 

"We really wanted to help if we could," Mr. Schultz, Teva's CEO, told Bloomberg. "The companies ... we were in contact with went for classic contract manufacturers, or they went with big pharma companies for partnerships."

Vaccine makers told Politico their rejections were because of the highly complex process of making vaccines and the need for safety, implying some of the drugmakers may not be skilled enough to make COVID-19 vaccines. 

A Johnson & Johnson spokesperson told Politico there's a "limited number of manufacturers with sites capable of producing the necessary volume of high quality and safe vaccines necessary to address this pandemic."

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot told Politico vaccine makers are also too busy to bring on new partners. 

"Even if we give access to the technology and we told people, 'Here is the recipe,' there is no way we could train these people to manufacture the vaccine because our engineers are flat-out working with our existing partners," he said, according to Business Insider

Read Politico's full article here


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