COVID-19 driven investments in vaccine production capacity will help relieve existing bottlenecks as the pandemic recedes, according to the authors of a new report.
Demand for vaccine production capacity increased significantly last year as pharmaceutical industry efforts to develop effective jabs accelerated. The contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) sectorâ€™s response has been to invest in vaccine and vector production capacity, says Fiona Barry from GlobalData.
â€śWeâ€™re seeing very high investment in vaccine-related contract manufacturing, by dedicated CDMOs and by excess capacity pharma manufacturers.
â€śThe wave of investment in viral vector manufacturing began before the pandemic, although of course the need for adenovirus for COVID-19 recombinant vector vaccines, has intensified demand.â€ť
Barry and colleagues looked at the CDMO landscape in a report last month, noting that COVID-19 has had a significant impact on investment in capacity the sector, particularly for the production of viral vectors needed for mRNA based vaccines.
She said, â€śLonza has a 10-year manufacturing contract with Moderna. It has built extra manufacturing lines for Modernaâ€™s vaccine in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Visp, Switzerland.
â€śUnivercells and Exyte are creating modular facilities for fast production of large volumes of a COVID-19 vaccine â€“ similar to Cytivaâ€™s KuBio offering,â€ť Barry continued.
Capacity for adenovirus vectors is also likely to see additional investment from CDMOs, according to Barry.
â€śThe model in our report shows that there is not enough capacity worldwide to manufacture viral vector for J&Jâ€™s and AstraZenecaâ€™s COVID-19 vaccines, and for cell and gene therapies, along the timelines we would all prefer.
â€śHowever, the industry is working hard to improve timelines, partly by investing in more capacity, and also by working on more efficient production methods, both upstream and downstream. Virus manufacturing needs a revolution in production similar to that of monoclonal antibodies over the last couple of decades; with greater standardization of platforms.â€ť
And CDMO capacity investments prompted by the pandemic are likely to benefit the wider sector, particularly cell and gene therapy developers according to Barry.
â€śEven before the pandemic, there was a bottleneck in cell and gene therapy manufacturing, especially for production of viral vectors. This will only be exacerbated as some of the coming wave of pipeline advanced therapies is approved â€“ there are almost 3,000 gene therapies and gene-modified cell therapies in development from discovery to clinical stage.
â€śSo CDMOs investing in virus manufacturing now for COVID-19 recombinant vector vaccines will be able to use these facilities for regenerative medicines in future.
â€śOn the mRNA side â€“ for Pfizer/BioNTechâ€™s and Modernaâ€™s vaccines â€“ the equipment for manufacture is expensive. But after this initial outlay, raw materials for mRNA manufacture are relatively low-cost. So CDMOs will be able to use the same tech for future products.â€ť
There are more than 100 mRNA vaccines in development for non-COVID-19 indications, either infectious diseases or oncology according to a separate GlobalData report.