COLLEGE STATION, TX — As the rollout of the first two COVID-19 vaccines approved by the F.D.A. continues, FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies is beginning production of two COVID-19 Vaccine candidates at their Texas facility in College Station.
“Today we are manufacturing material, stockpile material, so when Novavax gets approval the material here, the material we have produced can be used to vaccinate the population,” says Dr. Gerry Farrell, Chief Operating Officer of FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies Texas.
With the complete expansion of its Flexible Biomanufacturing Facility, thanks to Operation Warp Speed, FUJIFILM in College Station can accommodate large-scale production of the COVID-19 vaccine candidates.
“Within that facility now we have the largest single-use facility in the U.S. and that’s a scale-out facility where we can scale up various vaccine manufacturing products,” says Farrell.
The COVID-19 vaccine candidate Novavax, currently in phase 3 of clinical testing, will be manufactured by FUJIFILM continuously throughout 2021.
“So, we’re manufacturing that two by two-thousand-meter scale, we will turn those bioreactors every four days and produce up to seven batches per month,” says Farrell.
The Novavax vaccine does not require being stored in freezing temperatures and will be one-shot rather than two like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
“Much more traditional, easy to distribute, easy to give, you only have to do one shot as oppose to two [shots]. So, just a lot of advantages in terms of really expanding the number of people who are going to be able to put a vaccine into their arm,” says Greg Hartman, COO and Sr. VP of Texas A&M Health Science Center.
In the last nine months, FUJIFILM has added about 260 new positions with plans to continue creating jobs.
Hartman says the manufacturing of a COVID-19 vaccine in College Station has been a huge asset to the bio corridor in College Station.
“The visibility that developing this vaccine is going to bring to us is just going to get more and more people to look to the Brazos Valley and realize there is great workforce here, there are great people, A&M is a wonderful university, and probably really mean some longer economic development opportunities for us,” says Hartman.
Once Novavax finishes phase 3 clinical testing, the F.D.A. will then have to grant emergency use authorization to begin distribution.