Emergent BioSolutions Inc said on Monday it signed a five-year contract to make the drug substance used in Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate, adding to a series of deals likely to put it at the heart of future global vaccine production.
Under the deal, starting next year Emergent will provide large-scale manufacturing services to produce the drug substance over five years, with the first two years valued at about $480 million.
The news follows a $135 million deal struck by the two companies in April, to use Emergent’s manufacturing facilities to speed up the development and production of its vaccine candidate.
J&J has partnered with the U.S. government on a $1 billion investment to produce more than 1 billion doses of its vaccine, which is set to enter human testing in the second half of this month.
The manufacturing activities will happen at Emergent’s Baltimore Bayview facility, the company said. The facility was set up by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop and make medical countermeasures, such as vaccines and therapeutics used to fight health emergencies.
The facility, designated by the HHS as a Center for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing, has the capacity to produce tens to hundreds of millions of doses of vaccine yearly, Emergent said.
Emergent has also signed similar deals to expand the manufacturing capacity of COVID-19 vaccines under development by AstraZeneca Plc , Novavax Inc and Vaxart Inc .
The company also received $628 million from the U.S. government, which is looking to secure manufacturing capacity for a potential COVID-19 vaccine under its “Operation Warp Speed” program.