As researchers and pharmaceutical companies race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, one Texas institution says it’s ready to manufacture it whenever one is approved.
The Texas A&M University System Center for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing has an agreement with the federal government to manufacture vaccines on a large scale to combat pandemics. Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp told Texas Standard’s Joy Díaz that that’s what the center was created for.
“Everybody knew a pandemic would come, and voilà – here it is. And so that’s what the purpose of this center was,” Sharp said.
Right now, it has an order to manufacture a vaccine by pharmaceutical company Novovax. That vaccine is in phase one clinical trials in North Carolina, and would still need to complete phases two and three before the Food and Drug Administration approves it for mass-production. But officials say the center has the capacity to produce hundreds of millions of vaccine doses whenever one is approved.
The center is only a few years old, and has not yet mass-produced a vaccine. It’s a public-private partnership (Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies owns and operates the center) that was created through a federal disaster preparedness program after other recent, large disease outbreaks, including SARS in 2003. Sharp said President George W. Bush wanted to be able to produce vaccines in the United States in the event of an emergency.
“This is the first full-scale pandemic since the facility was built. This is what it was designed for – to produce vaccines in mass quantities,” Sharp said.
But the government could change course and order the center to manufacture a different drug with short notice.
“What they have done is put up a contract to reserve this facility for this production. They can change that contract and give us a task order completely different 24 hours from now, for another vaccine candidate.”
Web story by Caroline Covington.