One of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, Switzerland-based drugmaker Novartis is all set to join the COVID-19 vaccine production efforts after a call for support from US-German vaccine maker duo Pfizer-BioNTech.
Novartis has entered into an initial agreement to provide its manufacturing capacity for producing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, a move that will allow the duo to scale up its vaccine production to meet the demand.
The Swiss firm is expected to begin vaccine production in the second quarter of 2021, subject to reaching a final agreement with the duo. Novartis will utilize its manufacturing facilities at its site in Stein, Switzerland for the purpose.
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 is one of three vaccines from the West along with AstraZeneca and Moderna which have been cleared by regulators. Most of the vaccine producers have been hit by some form of delay in shipment caused by limited production, hampering efforts to swiftly vaccinate COVID-19 vulnerable people.
British-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca has been recently criticized for its inconsistent delivery to the European Union. BioNTech has already entered into a production deal with French pharma giant Sanofi to supply 125 million doses of its mRNA vaccine to the European Union.
Commenting on its support for producing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine Mr. Steffen Lang, Head of Novartis Technical Operations remarked that “Novartis has been mobilizing on multiple fronts to support the global pandemic response.”
The firm also shared that it is in “advanced discussions” with additional companies to take on the production of mRNA, therapeutic protein and other raw materials for vaccines and therapeutics.