Everest debuts $130M mRNA vaccine plant with aim at Chinese market dominance

Chinese biotech Everest Medicines has opened the doors and started running test batches at its 900 million Chinese yuan ($130 million) mRNA vaccine manufacturing facility in Jiashan in Zhejiang Province.

The facility is part of the company’s efforts to dominate the mRNA arena in China in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. While much of the Western world turned to mRNA shots in response to the pandemic, China has mostly relied on traditional vaccine tech.

Everest first signaled its desire to conquer the Chinese mRNA market by striking a 2021 deal with Providence Therapeutics for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate PTX-COVID19-B and follow-up assets.

Meanwhile, as part of its production expansion, Everest built a 58,000-square-foot manufacturing plant capable of an annual production capacity of 700 million vaccine doses, the company said in a Feb. 28 press release. The plant began operating in December, and Everest said it “successfully completed multiple production runs of mRNA vaccines.” The data collected from the trial runs met expected parameters, the Shanghai-based company said.

“MRNA technology has shown broad potential and clinical value in multiple disease prevention and treatment areas,” Rogers Yongqing Luo, Everest’s chief executive, said in the release. “We will continue to accelerate clinical development and be prepared for commercialization as quickly as possible to fulfill the demand for mRNA vaccines in China, Asia and globally.”

Luo took over the CEO reins at Everest in September after serving as Brii Biosciences' president and general manager for greater China. Part of Luo’s marching orders include securing Chinese approvals for Calliditas Therapeutics’ Nefecon, which is approved in the U.S. for lgA nephropathy, as well as Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals’ Xerava, which is approved in the U.S. and the EU for complicated intra-abdominal infections. Everest secured the China rights for the drugs in 2019 and 2018, respectively.