CSL targets 2021 production of COVID-19 vaccine

CSL announced Friday that it entered into a partnership with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to accelerate the development, manufacture and distribution of The University of Queensland's "molecular clamp"-enabled COVID-19 vaccine candidate. The drugmaker noted that the agreement formalises the support provided by CSL to the university and CEPI from the start of the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year.

Under the collaboration, CEPI and CSL will fund the development and manufacture of The University of Queensland's vaccine, including support for a Phase I study scheduled to begin in July, and subsequent late-stage trials. Funding will also be used for industrial-scale manufacturing to allow the production of potentially millions of doses a year, should the product be approved.

The University of Queensland's vaccine will be combined with MF59 adjuvant technology from CSL's Seqirus unit. Early preclinical results released in April showed that the vaccine produced high levels of antibodies that can neutralise the virus.

100 million doses

CSL suggested that if studies of the vaccine are successful, it anticipates that manufacturing technology can be scaled to produce up to 100 million doses towards the end of 2021. The drugmaker noted that production of the vaccine is planned to take place at its manufacturing facilities in Melbourne, Australia, while it would also subcontract other companies to increase the number of doses that can be produced.

Jane Halton, chair of CEPI, remarked "we…know that we cannot afford to wait until we know whether a vaccine works before ensuring we can produce it at scale." As part of the agreement, the allocation of doses between CEPI and CSL is linked to their relative contribution to overall project costs, with the former's share being fully distributed through the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility. Meanwhile, CSL's allocation will be primarily used to support its commitment to the Australian community.

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