GSK to Manufacture Novavax Covid-19 Vaccine in UK
GlaxoSmithKline Plc has agreed to help manufacture as many as 60 million U.K. doses of a Covid-19 vaccine from Novavax Inc. as the government looks to shore up supplies amid tensions with the European Union.
“GSK is delighted to support Novavax and the UK Vaccines Taskforce with this manufacturing arrangement for the UK and our Barnard Castle facility is now undertaking the rapid preparation work required to manufacture up to 60 million doses of this vaccine.
“We have ensured that we can deliver these volumes without impacting supply of our other vital medicines and vaccines, and without disruption to the other COVID-19 collaborations GSK is engaged in globally.” Roger Connor, President, GSK vaccines said in a statement on Monday.
The British pharmaceutical company will provide the fill-finish capacity — putting the vaccine into vials and packaging — for the Novavax shot at its Barnard Castle site in Durham, England, Glaxo said in a statement Monday.
Fill and finish, to be provided by GSK, is the completion stage of vaccine manufacturing, preparing vials of the final vaccine and packaging them for distribution and use.
The GSK site at Barnard Castle, which will deliver the vaccine doses under this collaboration, is a specialised facility in GSK’s global manufacturing network, which supports production of GSK pharmaceutical and vaccine products, the UK drugmaker said in a statement.
Novavax is expected to apply for U.K. approval of its vaccine in the second quarter, with production at the Glaxo plant starting as early as May.
The drug substance for the shot is also being produced in the northeast of England by Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies U.K. Ltd.
The deal was put together by the U.K. government’s Vaccine Taskforce, which agreed to purchase 60 million doses from Novavax last year.
The agreement has the potential to reduce the U.K.’s reliance on overseas vaccine supplies amid a spat with the EU over exports.
The bloc has fallen behind peers in vaccination rates, inoculating about 10 percent of its population, compared with 45 percent in the U.K. and about 28 percent in the U.S., according to the Bloomberg vaccine tracker.
EU leaders gave their guarded support to plans to restrict vaccine exports last week after it emerged the bloc had sent more shots to the rest of the world than to its own residents.
“We’re building up our own long-term U.K. manufacturing capabilities,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said at a press conference Monday in reference to the Glaxo agreement. Britain remains on track to offer a first dose of vaccine to all over 50s by April 15, and to all adults by the end of July, he said.
“This partnership with GSK continues the expansion of our global supply network, which we expect to increase overall production capacity and, if approved by regulatory agencies, support access to a potentially important new vaccine against COVID-19,” said Rick Crowley, Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer, Novavax.
“We thank the UK government’s Vaccine Taskforce for its instrumental role in ensuring the progress of our COVID-19 vaccine, from both a clinical and now manufacturing perspective, as well as GSK for making their facilities available to help fight the pandemic,” Crowley said.
Novavax’s shot was found to be 96.4 percent effective against mild, moderate and severe symptoms of the disease in a final analysis of its late-stage U.K. trial released earlier this month.
The company also released final results from a mid-stage trial in South Africa that showed the vaccine was 55.4 percent effective against a variant circulating there that’s been shown to partially elude the protection of some shots.
The Glaxo-Novavax partnership is the latest effort to pair vaccine front-runners with big pharmaceutical companies to help boost production capacity.
Glaxo also announced last month that it was supporting the manufacture of up to 100 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine from Germany’s CureVac NV.