At the end of March, Johnson & Johnson announced that it had chosen its lead candidate to take forward in clinical trials. At the same time, the company stated it aimed to build capacity to enable the manufacture of one billion doses across its global network.
In pursuing this capacity, J&J has revealed a partnership with Emergent BioSolutions to support the manufacture of its lead COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
As part of the deal, Emergent will provide drug substance manufacturing capabilities through its ‘molecule-to-market’ service.
In addition, the contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) will reserve operations capacity should J&J’s vaccine reach the commercial stage, which is anticipated to be possible in 2021.
Emergent stated that the deal would be worth approximately $135m (€124m) and it would produce doses of the vaccine from its Baltimore, US, facility.
The Bayview site was developed through a public-private partnership with the US Department of Health and Human Services, which had been established to prepare and respond to public health emergencies.
Further agreements to come
In its statement, J&J outlined that this deal is the ‘first in a series’ of global collaborations expected to be necessary to expand to the one billion dose-scale.
In terms of the progress of its lead vaccine, J&J noted that it had begun preparing for clinical vaccine production at its facility in Leiden, the Netherlands, and had a potential start date for Phase I studies in September 2020.
The company reaffirmed that the vaccine would be ‘affordable’ and available on a ‘not-for-profit’ basis for emergency pandemic use.
As well as working with partners, the company stated that it is working to scale up its own vaccine manufacturing capabilities globally and had already begun production ‘at risk’, as J&J had previously announced.