COVID-19 vaccine production driving contract service agreements for recombinant vector vaccines

COVID-19 is driving many small pharma companies that do not have the expertise or funds to run their own manufacturing facilities to outsource production. COVID-19 vaccine developers are signing contract service agreements at an unprecedented rate, as pharma companies have publicly revealed 42 contract manufacturing service agreements for 28 unique pipeline COVID-19 vaccines, as manufacturing companies benefit from the inflow of governmental grants, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Johanna Swanson, Pharma Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Smaller companies lack the manufacturing capabilities to produce COVID-19 vaccines and will need to use external suppliers. Even the largest companies require extra resources to produce the billions of doses needed should their candidate be approved. Vaccine sponsors as large as AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson are using contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs) for their pipeline vaccines.”

Most contract manufacturing service agreements are for recombinant vector vaccines, followed by subunit vaccines. This is despite the fact mRNA vaccines dominate the top COVID-19 vaccines. There are few mRNA outsourcing agreements relative to the number of mRNA candidates because of the novelty of this unproven technology.

Swanson adds: “Few CMOs have the capability to produce active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) for mRNA vaccines, not least because they are unique and patented. For dose manufacturing of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines, sponsor companies are opting to partner with manufacturers, rather than outsource to CMOs.”

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