Novartis has agreed to help manufacture a COVID-19 vaccine jointly developed by Pfizer and BioNTech to support the vaccine supply chain, the Swiss drugmaker. announced January 29th.
Using its manufacturing facility in Stein, Switzerland, Novartis will fill the vial with bulk messenger RNA (the active ingredient of the vaccine) and ship it to BioNTech. The amount has not been disclosed, as the deal reached a final agreement.
Novartis plans to start production in the second quarter of 2021, with initial deliveries slated for the third quarter.
Steffen Lang, Novartis’ head of technical operations, said in a news release that the drugmaker is committed to using its manufacturing capabilities to help end the pandemic and expects this agreement “to be the first of a number of such agreements.”
The announcement comes two days after French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi announced his plans to produce more than 125 million doses of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.
FRANKFURT / BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign is overshadowed by an overdose accident in the north and problems with vaccine transport in the south that saw 1,000 shots being sent back.
Several districts in Bavaria said on Monday they would not use the injections received over the weekend because of concerns the vaccines developed by Pfizer and BioNTech might become too warm during their deliveries in household coolers, a Lichtenfels district spokesman said.
“There is doubt whether the cold chain is maintained over time,” Lichtenfels District Administrator Christian Meissner told Reuters TV.
The vaccine, which uses so-called mRNA technology, must be stored at an extremely low temperature of about minus 70 Celsius (minus 94 Fahrenheit) before being shipped to distribution centers in specially designed cool boxes filled with dry ice.
After exiting very low temperature storage, the vaccine must be stored at 2C to 8C to remain effective for up to five days. The cooler designed by Pfizer is equipped with a GPS tracker so the company can tackle potential storage issues on the go.
While BioNTech is in charge of transport to the deep freezer hub, local authorities are tasked with providing safe and cool transport to individual vaccination centers.
The vaccine arrived in Lichtenfels and six other northern Bavarian districts on Saturday in coolers of the kind used for picnics or camping trips. Temperature loggers in some cases show temporary temperatures of up to 15C.
“BioNTech commented and said that the vaccine might be fine, but maybe okay is not enough,” Meissner said, adding that the injections would not be used to prevent damaging public confidence in the vaccination campaign.
According to the Upper Franconia government, where the districts are located, BioNTech has said it: “Based on the facts you provided in your email on 12-27-2020 at 19.52 and internal stability data, we do not see any effect from transport irregularities. described on the quality of the vaccine injection concerned. “
BioNTech declined to comment.
After consulting with the Bavarian Ministry of Health, the districts decided not to use the 1,000 shots allocated for use at Lichtenfels as well as Coburg, Kronach, Kulmbach, Hof, Bayreuth and Wunsiedel, also in northern Bavaria, a Lichtenfels spokesman said.
Local medical staff have said they would not feel comfortable using the injections, he said, adding that the new batch of vaccine injections that arrived Monday was completely cold and the vaccination campaign started one day late.
Elsewhere in Germany, in the Vorpommern-Ruegen district, authorities said eight workers at a nursing home in the city of Stralsund received five times the recommended dose of the BioNTech / Pfizer vaccine on Sunday.
Four people went to the hospital for observation after experiencing flu-like symptoms.
“I really regret that incident. This individual case was caused by individual error. I hope that all those affected do not experience any serious side effects, ”said Regent Stefan Kerth in a statement.
The Vorpommern-Ruegen authorities pointed to an earlier statement by BioNTech that said that larger doses were tested in the Phase I study without serious consequences.
BioNTech points to the vaccine package insert, which says that in case of an overdose, monitoring of vital functions and possible symptomatic treatment is recommended.
Reporting by Arno Schuetze, Michael Nienaber and Reuters TV; Edited by David Clarke
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