Wockhardt strikes deal with UK govt to manufacture, supply COVID-19 vaccines

Business & Economics

The drug firm is expected to deliver about 60 million doses of multiple vaccines against the coronavirus, including the one co-invented by Oxford and AstraZeneca, in the next few months

New Delhi: Drug firm Wockhardt on Monday said it has entered into an agreement with the UK government to supply millions of doses of multiple vaccines that are being developed to fight COVID-19.

“The company has entered into an agreement with the UK government to fill-finish the COVID-19 vaccines. The manufacturing will be undertaken at Wockhardt’s CP Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of the company based in Wrexham in North Wales,” Wockhardt Founder Chairman Habil Khorakiwala said in an online press conference.

As per the terms of the agreement, the company has reserved the manufacturing capacity to allow for the supply of multiple vaccines to the UK government in its fight against COVID-19, including AZD1222, the vaccine co-invented by the University of Oxford and its spin-out company, Vaccitech and licensed by AstraZeneca, he added.

“We are proud to be collaborating with the UK government to make vaccines available and the arrangement brings in a huge sense of purpose and pride, it upholds our ongoing commitment to fight against such a pandemic of global human importance,” Khorakiwala said.

As a global organisation, Wockhardt is focussed and committed to assist in mitigating the worldwide impact of COVID-19, he added. “In the next few months, we are expected to deliver about 60 million doses,” Khorakiwala said.

Wockhardt has a large manufacturing capacity in India, and Wockhardt’s combined fill-finish vaccine manufacturing capacity, both in India and UK, is one billion doses, he added.

“In fact, we have offered our Aurangabad facility for the manufacturing of fill-finish vaccines to the Indian government…,” Khorakiwala said.

On the agreement, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Government of UK, Alok Sharma said ensuring that the UK has the capability to research, develop and manufacture a safe and effective vaccine is critical in its fight against coronavirus.

“Today, we have secured additional capacity to manufacture millions of doses of multiple COVID-19 candidates, guaranteeing the supply of vaccines we need to protect people across the UK rapidly and in large numbers,” he added.

Wockhardt UK MD Ravi Limaye said the company expects to start delivering the first doses of the vaccine later this year.

The UK government has reserved one fill and finish production line for its exclusive use for the next 18 months in order to guarantee the supply of vaccines required to fight COVID-19 in the UK, Wockhardt said.

“We have made significant progress in securing a diverse portfolio of potential vaccines and treatments for COVID-19, adding a fourth vaccine candidate from GSK and Sanofi last week. However, discovering a successful vaccine is only part of the solution, we also need to be able to manufacture it,” UK Vaccines Task Force Chair Kate Bingham said.

Fill finish is a critical step in the process to get the vaccine in a form to be given to patients, she added.

“The agreement with Wockhardt will boost our capability to ensure that from the moment a successful vaccine is identified, we will be able to produce the quantities of vaccine required, as quickly as possible, for the people who need it,” Bingham said.

Shares of Wockhardt Ltd closed at Rs 303.40 per scrip on the BSE, up 9.99 percent from the previous close.

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