New Brunswick Tribune

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

P.E.I will manufacture mRNA vaccine

Key takeaways:

  • BioVectra will receive $39.8 million from the federal government’s Biomanufacturing and Life Sciences Strategy to aid the expansion.
  • The projected increase will allow for the production of up to 160 million mRNA vaccine doses per year.

BioVectra, based in Charlottetown, is increasing its manufacturing of mRNA vaccines with the help of the federal and provincial governments.

Minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry François-Philippe Champagne made the announcement in Charlottetown on Thursday morning.

The federal government’s Biomanufacturing and Life Sciences Strategy provides $39.8 million to BioVectra to help with the expansion. The province will provide an additional $10 million to the $79.6 million projects.

BioVectra C.E.O. Oliver Technow told C.B.C. News that the company is well-positioned for this growth because of its 50 years of experience.

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“We are not newcomers to the global biomanufacturing scene,” Technow explained, “so it’s a logical step for us to assume a bigger role in producing home vaccines.”

The projected increase will allow for the production of up to 160 million mRNA vaccine doses per year. In addition, it will produce 125 new positions at BioVectra, with the majority in Charlottetown, and will be shared between P.E.I. and Nova Scotia. 

In addition, the company’s Windsor, N.S., plant will develop and produce plasmid D.N.A., which is a vital element in the manufacturing of mRNA treatments and vaccines.

A new 30,000 square foot structure in Charlottetown will be part of the expansion. Construction is set to begin in March, with production set to begin a year later. 

The Charlottetown facility will package up to 70 million pills each year, ready for healthcare providers. Any additional manufacturing would be sent to other facilities for final packaging.

P.E.I. company to produce mRNA vaccines

“This will ensure that Canada is ready for future pandemics and other health emergencies,” Champagne explained.

“BioVectra’s intention to build a state-of-the-art vaccine facility on Prince Edward Island and expand its current facilities in Nova Scotia is a significant step forward in our objective to build a robust, competitive domestic life sciences sector,” said the Premier.

In August, Champagne revealed that Canada and Moderna had signed a memorandum of understanding to develop an mRNA manufacturing plant in Canada within two years. 

It would be Moderna’s first international venture. However, the BioVectra announcement was not linked to that M.O.U., according to the news release.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada was forced to rely on foreign sources for vaccines due to a lack of vaccine manufacturing facilities. As a result, vaccines took a few weeks longer to arrive in Canada than in countries with manufacturing capabilities.

Not only is the announcement significant for Canada, but it also represents a significant shift for BioVectra. The company’s current business is contract development and manufacture, which means it provides synthetic small molecules and bioreagents to other pharmaceutical businesses rather than producing consumer-ready goods.

Source: CBC News

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