Manufacturing for Novavax vaccine ramping up in RTP as phase 3 clinical trials begin

Josh Chapin Image
Tuesday, December 29, 2020
Morrisville company begins large-scale vaccine trials
Novavax becomes the 5th company to launch a large-scale trial of the coronavirus vaccine in the United States.

MORRISVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Novavax became the fifth company to launch a large-scale trial of the coronavirus vaccine in the United States.

The vaccine is being manufactured at Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies or FDB in Morrisville.

President Donald Trump toured the facility in July when there was just hope of a COVID-19 vaccine.

"We've really been able to ramp up that manufacturing," said Martin Meeson, CEO of FDB. "We've continued to manufacture the last couple of months."

Meeson said that normally a clinical trial would be done with a small amount of product and "hopefully that trial would be successful." After that, he said, you'd start making lots of product to take out and treat people with.

But they're hopeful this different process will allow them to have millions of doses ready to go out to the American people once the trial comes to a conclusion.

In the past year, FDB has hired 85 people and it will be looking to hire more next year to help with manufacturing.

Construction is underway at the Morrisville facility with a $54 million expansion that is expected to be finished in mid-2021.

FDB manufactures more than 60 different therapeutics and vaccines at the facility in RTP but it's clear the COVID-19 vaccine is getting the most eyeballs.

"We had the idea, we've done the testing," said Dr. Gregory Glenn, president of research and development at Novavax. "We made the early stage material but to get it scaled it up and made in millions and millions of doses, that's where the facility comes in in North Carolina."

Glenn is urging a variety of people to sign up for the trials. He said it is an important service to the country.

He also said herd immunity needs to be way up and it will be too devastating to reach the desired number through infections.