AstraZeneca taps Catalent for COVID-19 vaccine finishing, packaging at Italian plant

Catalent Bloomington, Indiana plant
Catalent will be tasked with helping finish and package AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine candidate. (Catalent)

British drugmaker AstraZeneca is shooting for the moon with its plan to produce 2 billion doses per year of a potential COVID-19 vaccine. To reach that lofty goal, AstraZeneca has reached a deal with New Jersey-based Catalent to help with the final stages of the shot's manufacturing.

Catalent will be tasked with finishing and packaging duties for AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford's COVID-19 vaccine candidate, AZD1222, at its 305,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Anagni, Italy, the CDMO said Monday.

As part of their agreement, Catalent will help AstraZeneca produce "hundreds of millions of doses" beginning in August 2020 and potentially running through March 2022, if the vaccine receives full regulatory approval.

Catalent would not disclose the financial terms of the deal, a spokesman said.

“Our manufacturing site in Anagni, Italy has served for many years as a primary launch facility for new medicines, and the plant’s skilled team will take great pride in preparing to manufacture this vaccine candidate for COVID-19 and ensuring that the product will be able to reach patients as quickly as possible if approved," Catalent CEO Alessandro Maselli said in a release.

AstraZeneca's tie-up with Catalent comes as the British drugmaker aims to piece together a global manufacturing supply chain to reach its goal of producing more than 2 billion doses per year of Oxford's vaccine.

RELATED: AstraZeneca, Emergent BioSolutions sign $87M deal to produce U.S. supply of COVID-19 vaccine

Last week, AstraZeneca and Emergent BioSolutions inked an $87 million deal to manufacture doses of Oxford's adenovirus-based COVID-19 shot for U.S. supply.

The accord was part of the Trump administration's Operation Warp Speed initiative to develop and rapidly scale production of targeted vaccines before the end of 2020.

As part of the agreement, Emergent pledged to reserve large-scale manufacturing capacity for AZD1222 at its Baltimore Bayview facility through 2020. The company will also provide contract development manufacturing services to aid AstraZeneca's shot manufacturing goals, Emergent said.

Monday, the EU announced it would pay $843 million to secure 300 million doses of Oxford's vaccine with an option for an additional 100 million doses.

That massive work order will go a long way to offset the $750 million AstraZeneca agreed to dole out earlier this month to rapidly scale up its manufacturing of AZD1222 in multiple deals.

RELATED: AstraZeneca unveils massive $750M deal in effort to produce billions of COVID-19 shots

AstraZeneca agreed to work with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to manufacture and distribute 300 million doses of Oxford's vaccine by the end of 2020.

AZ also agreed to a licensing deal with the Serum Institute of India to provide 1 billion doses of the vaccine to low- and middle-income countries, with the goal of 400 million produced by year-end. In total, the deals bring AstraZeneca's overall supply capacity for Oxford's vaccine to more than 2 billion doses per year, the drugmaker said.

For its part, Catalent will also work with Johnson & Johnson to help produce its COVID-19 vaccine hopeful. The partners signed a deal in late April to ramp up capacity at the CDMO's 875,000-square-foot Bloomington, Indiana, facility. Catalent agreed to hire an additional 300 workers at the plant starting in July with the goal of reaching 24/7 manufacturing schedules by January.

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