Switzerland’s Novartis to help produce Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine

A Novartis building against a clear blue sky.
Switzerland's Novartis is set to help produce production of the Biontech/Pfizer jab. Photo: DOMINICK REUTER / AFP
Swiss pharmaceuticals giant Novartis said Thursday it has signed a new agreement to farm out some of its production facilities and help manufacture much-needed doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine.

Novartis has been using its factory in Stein in Switzerland to produce more than 50 million doses this year of the mRNA Covid-19 vaccine developed by German startup BioNTech and US drugmaker Pfizer.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is one of a handful that have been approved around the world in the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Covid-19 vaccines: Why is Switzerland lagging behind other EU countries?

In a statement on Thursday, Novartis said it would now “use its sterile manufacturing facilities… in Ljubljana, Slovenia, to fill at least 24 million doses in 2022.”

The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Novartis said it would “take bulk mRNA active ingredient from BioNTech and fill this into vials under sterile conditions for shipment back to BioNTech for its distribution.”

Booster shots may be available by end October in Switzerland

Swiss authorities have indicated Covid booster shots may be ready as soon as the end of the month, amid growing criticism of the slow rollout.

Amid debates about the third vaccine does — and criticism over the government’s slowness — Switzerland’s vaccine regulatory agency said the long-awaited booster rollout may be imminent.

Claus Bolte, Head of Authorisation at Swissmedic,  said in an interview with the SRF public broadcaster that approval may come by the end of October. 

“I’m talking about a few, maybe two or three weeks. That now essentially depends on the companies and when they will answer our questions in such a way that we can also extend the approval. “

However, Bolte didn’t specify the exact timing of boosters and which groups will be eligible to receive them.

READ MORE: Covid-19: Why is Switzerland still stalling on booster shots?


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