GSK supports UK vaccine manufacture

Article by Amanda Jasi

GSK, Novavax, and the UK Government Vaccines Taskforce have reached an agreement in principle for GSK to support the manufacture of up to 60m doses of Novavax’ Covid-19 vaccine candidate, for use in the UK.

The UK Government previously secured 60m doses of vaccine under an advance purchase agreement with biotechnology company Novavax.

Under the collaboration, pharmaceutical company GSK would provide fill-and-finish manufacturing capacity. Fill-and-finish refers to the final stage of vaccine manufacture, which involves preparing vials of the vaccine and packaging them for distribution and use.

GSK will carry out fill-and-finish at its specialised facility at Barnard Castle, in the North East of England, which supports production of GSK pharmaceutical and vaccine products. The protein antigen component of Novavax’s candidate is also produced in the North East by Novavax’ manufacturing partner, Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies, at Billingham, Stockton-on-Tees.

Fill-and-finish work could begin as early as May, and rapid technology transfer between GSK and Novavax has already begun.

The companies will negotiate a final agreement including additional terms and conditions.

Novavax’ vaccine has demonstrated strong potential efficacy in Phase 3 clinical trials, including the more easily and quickly spread B.1.1.7 variant circulating in the UK. It is expected to be submitted for regulatory review in the UK during Q2.

Matt Hancock, Health and Social Care Secretary, said: “We've all seen just how important onshore vaccine manufacturing capabilities are, and this … deal will ensure more of these vital products can be produced here in the UK.

“The UK’s vaccination programme has been a national success, with over 30m people now having received a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. Should the Novavax vaccine meet our medicine regulator’s high standards of safety and effectiveness, the agreement reached today will boost these efforts over the coming months.”

According to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, GSK’s investment shows the strength of UK manufacturing and will further boost the nation’s vaccine rollout. On 28 March, the UK Government said that it had, to-date, invested more than £300m (US$411.5m) in successful vaccine manufacture to enable rapid rollout.

The Novavax vaccine, along with others, was secured through the Government’s Vaccine Taskforce, established to accelerate and coordinate efforts to deliver Covid-19 vaccines to the UK population. The Taskforce has secured early access to 457m doses of eight of the most promising candidates including from BioNTech/Pfizer (40m), Oxford/AstraZeneca (100m), Moderna (17m), GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi (60m), Janssen (30m), Valneva (100m), and CureVac (50m). Valneva began manufacturing its vaccine earlier this year.

Article by Amanda Jasi

Staff reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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