EMA backs expansion of Pfizer’s Belgium facility for COVID-19 vaccine supply

The European Medicines Agency has recommended the approval of additional manufacturing capacity at Pfizer’s Puurs, Belgium facility for its COVID-19 vaccine.

The expansion, of which no financial details have been disclosed, aims to install additional manufacturing and filling lines.

According to the EMA, the recommendation given by the Agency’s Committee for Human Medicines (CHMP) will have a significant and direct impact on the supply of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.

Image: iStock/carmengabriela

The firm’s partnership with BioNTech saw Pfizer become the first company to bring a messenger RNA-based product to market, namely the COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty (BNT162b2).

Pfizer’s CEO Albert Bourla told shareholders at its annual meeting in April that it is comfortable the firm will produce 3 billion doses of the vaccine in 2021.

However, a spokeswoman from Pfizer told BioProcess Insider “Pfizer and BioNTech continue to increase capacity in support of our COVID-19 vaccine to exceed 2.5 billion vaccine doses globally in 2021.”

She continued: “[This] includes expanding our manufacturing capabilities, increasing our supplier base for key materials and contract manufacturing options to our supply chain. The recommendation from the EMA (June 1, 2021) regarding Pfizer’s operations at Puurs, Belgium, will contribute to these ongoing efforts to deliver more than 2.5 billion does in 2021 and potentially more in 2022.”

This is not Pfizer’s first facility expansion to accelerate its global COVID-19 vaccine supply.

Part of its further investment in its manufacturing network is being plugged into Ireland where Pfizer said this month it will devote up to $40 million at its Grange Castle, Dublin facility to produce the COVID-19 vaccine.

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