Novartis to help produce CureVac Covid-19 vaccine

The Swiss government ordered 5 million doses of CureVac's mRNA vaccine against Covid-19 in February. Keystone / Sebastian Gollnow

Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis has signed an initial deal to produce the mRNA molecules for the Covid-19 vaccine developed by German biotech firm CureVac.

This content was published on March 4, 2021 - 14:15

On Thursday, Novartis said its plant in Kundl, Austria, would start production of the CureVac vaccine (CVnCoV) this summer. It hopes to deliver enough drug substance to produce 50 million doses by the end of the year and plans to accelerate production to reach 200 million doses in 2022. CureVac is also working with German pharmaceutical company Bayer to manufacture its vaccine.

“We are currently expanding our site with additional capacities for the production of mRNA in order to best serve the increasing demand,” said Steffen Lang, Global Head of Novartis Technical Operations, in a press release.

At the end of January, Novartis announced it would also provide manufacturing capacity for Pfizer/BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine. Under the deal, Novartis is involved in the fill-and-finish process – taking the bulk mRNA active ingredient from BioNTech and putting it into vials at its facility in Stein, Switzerland.

Novartis says it is considering other agreements to support the global supply of Covid-19 vaccines and therapeutics.

Switzerland has reserved over 30 million vaccine doses from different manufacturers - Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Curevac and Novavax - for its population of 8.6 million people. So far, there are two vaccines approved and available in the country, those from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.

The Swiss government secured 5 million doses of the CureVac vaccine in February. It is based on similar mRNA technology as the Pfizer/BioNtech and Moderna vaccines. Swiss firm Lonza is producing the main active vaccine ingredients for the Moderna vaccine for non-US markets at its site in Visp in southern Switzerland.

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