Oxford Biomedica earns U.K. nod for 4th manufacturing suite to boost COVID-19 production

Among the contract manufacturers enjoined in the race for a COVID-19 vaccine, Oxford Biomedica has forged a close relationship with AstraZeneca given its choice location. Now, the company is one step closer to running at full speed with the U.K.'s nod for a new production suite.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has given the green light to Oxford Biomedica's fourth production suite at its Oxbox facility in Oxford, England, that will immediately be used to produce viral vectors used in AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine, the company said.

Along with a third manufacturing suite approved last month, Oxford Biomedica has added 1,000 liters of manufacturing capacity for viral vectors with equipment provided through a five-year pact with the U.K.'s Vaccine Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC) signed in June.

The company's Oxbox facility will eventually contain six manufacturing suites—four dedicated to viral vector production and two for fill-finish, Oxford Biomedica said in a release. The first two suites notched U.K. approval in May.

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Given its close proximity to the University of Oxford, Oxford Biomedica has developed into a growing partner for AstraZeneca, which is developing and commercializing the university's adenovirus-based COVID-19 shot, dubbed AZD1222.

In September, AstraZeneca agreed to pay Oxford Biomedica an initial $20 million to reserve 1,000 liters of production capacity for AZD1222 for at least 18 months.

The three-year manufacturing deal—with the second 18-month reservation optional—expands an initial pact signed in May between the two British companies for just one year and 200 liters of capacity. Oxford Biomedica will set aside space for the vaccine in three manufacturing suites at Oxbox through 2021.

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In June, Oxford Biomedica signed a five-year deal with the VMIC to build out the CDMO's Oxbox facility to help produce doses of AZD1222.

As part of their deal, VMIC agreed to supply manufacturing equipment for two suites at Oxbox, while VMIC will receive "training and technical assistance" for its staff to scale up manufacturing of viral vector vaccines at its new facility at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus at Oxford scheduled to open in mid-2021.