Johnson & Johnson is currently racing to ensure that it has enough capacity to produce its lead vaccine candidate against COVID-19. On selecting the candidate, the company announced that it planned to scale its production capacity to one billion doses.
One week ago, J&J started this process by signing a manufacturing partnership with Emergent to utilize its US facility to produce drug substance for the potential vaccine.
This was followed, yesterday, by the announcement that J&J had agreed a further manufacturing deal with Catalent for the latter company to provide large-scale commercial manufacturing at its Bloomington, US, facility.
The scale of the undertaking was revealed as Catalent announced that it would need to take on an additional 300 members to staff to manage the tech transfer and to enable the contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) to run manufacturing operations 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
Catalent aims to have these employees on board by July 2020 to ready manufacturing processes for anticipated large-scale production commencing by January 2021.
The company’s division specialized in the manufacture of biologics, Catalent Biologics, will be responsible for the production out of its 875,000-square-feet Indiana plant. However, the company noted that the division’s network spans additional facilities in the US and Europe.
Both companies will be responsible for the investment required to scale-up the manufacturing process, though the exact figures were not announced.
On the same day that the announcement was made, Catalent also stated that it is working with several other customers on COVID-related antivirals, vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments. As well, the company noted it had set up a ‘coronavirus response team’ after being declared an essential business.