by Francesco Guarascio and Ludwig Burger
(Reuters) – AstraZeneca has teamed up with German biotech firm IDT Biologika to help it produce its COVID-19 vaccine as the European Union led by Germany wants to speed up vaccine production in the block.
The Anglo-Swedish laboratory said Wednesday it is exploring options with IDT to increase its vaccine production in the second quarter. The two groups plan in particular to increase the capacities of the IDT Biologika site in Dessau, in eastern Germany, in order to be operational by the end of 2022.
As part of this investment, up to five 2,000-liter bioreactors capable of manufacturing tens of millions of doses per month of AstraZeneca’s vaccine will be integrated into production.
The investment could also help speed up production of other vaccines, the two groups added.
IDT Biologika, which produces viral vaccines for pharmaceutical companies, has so far failed to develop its own vaccine against COVID-19.
As part of the partnership with AstraZeneca, the German biotech has said it will invest several million euros, while the amount of AstraZeneca’s participation in this project is still under discussion.
The Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca laboratories have lowered their vaccine delivery targets to the European Union due, they say, to production problems.
“This agreement will greatly help Europe to build an independent vaccine manufacturing capacity that will enable it to meet the challenges posed by the current pandemic and create a strategic supply capacity for the future”, said Pascal Soriot, director General of AstraZeneca.
The German Land of Saxony-Anhalt, headquarters of IDT, said this month that the laboratory was also in discussions to produce the Russian vaccine Sputnik V, developed by the Gamaleya institute.
(French version Claude Chendjou, edited by Jean-Michel Bélot)