India's Wockhardt signs pact with UK to guarantee filling, packaging of purchased COVID-19 vaccines
The agreement will help UK address a key challenge in supply that vaccine makers are likely to face — shortage of vials to rapidly 'fill and finish' tens of thousands of vaccine doses.
Mumbai-based pharmaceutical and biotechnology giant Wockhardt has announced a new deal it has inked with the British government to supply millions of doses of various COVID-19 vaccines for the United Kingdom population.
The British government intends for the agreement to help address a key challenge in supply that many global vaccine makers are likely to face — enough vials to rapidly 'fill and finish' to vaccinate a large population. The manufacturing will be undertaken at CP Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Wockhardt based in Wrexham, North Wales.
The government has reserved one fill and finish production line for its exclusive use for the next 18 months in order to guarantee the supply of vaccines required to fight COVID-19 in the UK, as per a statement from the company.
As per the agreement, over the next few months, Wockhardt is expected to fill vials with around 30 million doses of the vaccine candidate developed jointly by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca. However, the agreement isn't limited to just the Oxford vaccine candidate. Khorakiwala said in a statement that the agreement will cater to the vaccine candidates that the UK government has entered into agreements for, including candidates from Sanofi-GSK, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna-NIAID.
Wockhardt is also looking to partner up with other vaccine makers whose candidates are in early stage human trials, for similar manufacturing tie-ups. It is currently also the middle of a dialogue with the Indian government about its fill and finish services for COVID-19 vaccines at its facility in Aurangabad. The facility can fill around 600 million doses a year, as per the company's founder chairman Dr Habil Khorakiwala.
"We have been in touch with the scientific advisor to the Prime Minister’s Office, Dr K. VijayRaghavan, and we are in communication with him,” Khorakiwala said. The firm is of the understanding that, as of now, it is part of the country’s vaccine management programme, he added.
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