In collaboration with Pfizer, the German biotechnology company BioNTech, the same company that has developed the Covid-19 vaccine by utilizing the messenger RNA technology is opening a regional headquarters in Singapore along with a manufacturing facility.
The facility will administer the “regional and global supply capacity of BioNTech’s mRNA-based product candidates” and fulfill “a rapid response production capability for Southeast Asia to address potential pandemic threats”, the company issued on May 10 according to Asiaone news.
There were plans by BioNTech to inaugurate its Singapore headquarters and commence the construction of its manufacturing facility this 2021, albeit subject to planning confirmation.
The facility will be expected to be operational by 2023 and will generate up to 80 jobs in Singapore.
In its media launch, BioNTech stated that the state-of-the-art facility, backed by the EDB or Economic Development Board of Singapore “will leverage cutting-edge manufacturing and digital infrastructure”.
It will be furnished to “produce a range of novel mRNA vaccines and therapeutics for infectious diseases and cancer”, it said.
The Purpose of the Project
The Minister for Singapore’s Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing announced at a virtual press meeting after the launch, that the new investment is a boost to the local biopharmaceutical industry.
He also added that the new mRNA technology has radically reduced the time needed to develop vaccines, the new laboratory will also fortify the lineup of technologies in Singapore that produces vaccines.
“There will be new viruses that will emerge in time to come and what we need is a strong R&D partnership to make sure that we continuously evolve our products in a timely fashion to serve our local and regional markets.”
The biotech firm also noted that the site will be highly automated with “end-to-end mRNA production capabilities across drug substance, drug product, and fill-and-finish, with an estimated annual capacity of several hundred of million doses of mRNA-based vaccines depending on the specific vaccine”.
However, BioNTech did not release any data about the total amount of investment made for the project in Singapore as it will remain in private hands.
Investment in Singapore
BioNTech co-creator and CEO Ugur Sahin said that Singapore has a perfect business climate with a developing biotechnology industry and abundant expertise support.
“Having multiple nodes in our production network is an important strategic step in building out our global footprint and capabilities. With this planned mRNA production facility, we will increase our overall network capacity and expand our ability to manufacture and deliver our mRNA vaccines and therapies to people around the world,” he added.
“The investment will enable Singapore to develop capabilities in an important new therapeutic modality as part of its strategy to grow the biopharmaceutical industry here,” said Beh Swan Gin, the chairman of EDB or Economic Development Board
He also added, “In particular, BioNTech’s mRNA manufacturing facility will contribute significantly to the region’s ability to address future pandemic threats.”
A Beacon of Hope in Southeast Asia
The technology used by BioNTech in collaboration with the US drug company Pfizer is capable of utilizing genetic material from dead coronavirus to provoke the immune system of the host to fight against the virus.
The BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine has already been distributed in 170 million doses in the United States under the approval of the Food and Drug Administration albeit for emergency purposes. The joint firms are now seeking full approval of their vaccine shot to be administered to people 16 and older in the US.
The Centers for Disease and Control said that at least two shots are required within a 21 days time frame between the doses, and the vaccine has a 95% effectiveness of preventing infection of Covid-19 related diseases in people who had no previously recorded symptoms of the virus.
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