Through a letter of intent released this week, AstraZeneca and IDT Biologika pledged to increase COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing in Europe and guarantee long-term supply capacity.
While the details are still up in the air, both companies also intend to invest in drug substance capacity. Investments will help build out IDT’s production site in Dessau, Germany, with up to five 2,000-liter bioreactors. This will make the site capable of manufacturing tens of millions of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine doses per month. Those assets should be operational by the end of 2022. This may also allow for the production of other vaccines with similar manufacturing processes.
“This agreement will greatly help Europe build an independent vaccine manufacturing capability that will allow it to meet the challenges of the current pandemic and create strategic supply capacity for the future,” Pascal Soriot, AstraZeneca CEO, said. “We are delighted to be investing with our partner IDT Biologika in the future health, security, and wellbeing of millions of citizens across Europe. I would like to thank the German Federal Government and the European Commission for their support in our efforts.”
The AstraZeneca vaccine, co-developed by Oxford University and its spin-off company Vaccitech, was approved for use by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in January. Although not without hiccups, AstraZeneca began shipping doses the following week, with plans to reach 17 million initial doses this month. More are planned for March. This agreement with IDT Biologika is meant to accelerate output efforts in the second quarter of 2021.
“The agreement underscores our expertise in the production of demanding vector-based vaccines and our ability to provide a one-stop solution, from creating drug substance, through to “fill and finish” and secondary packaging,” Jürgen Betzing, CEO of IDT Biologika, said.
Up to three months can pass between first and second doses of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca, reducing supply strain. The World Health Organization credits it with an overall efficacy of 63.09 percent against symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection, although longer dose intervals actually increase efficacy.