The Post-COVID-19 State of Biomanufacturing News from the Biotech Start-up Symposium

by Simon Agwale and Thomas Ransohoff | January 18, 2022

business meeting

During last month’s Biotech Start-up Symposium, attendees heard an all-star team of experts discuss the intricacies of raising venture capital and a variety of other relevant topics. But no matter the discussion a single topic kept emerging–COVID-19.

Of all the industries affected by the pandemic, perhaps none was impacted more than biotech and pharma. During the symposium it became clear that some good news has actually come out of the pandemic. Inefficiencies within the industry were finally exposed and repaired, so the next time a new virus comes along we will be better prepared to tackle it.

According to Thomas Ransohoff of  Resilience, “The pandemic revealed two fundamental needs; first, that the resilience of domestic supply chains is crucial to health and economic security and secondly, that our ability to produce the complex medicines of the future at full scale is critical to our ability to deliver the benefits of these medicines.”

The manufacturing and deployment of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines vindicated the second of Mr. Ransohoff’s points, as exemplified by two messenger RNA vaccines developed in record time despite not having been cleared for use in humans before. As of this writing over 8 billion doses have been administered worldwide and nearly 60% of the world population has received at least one dose1. A testament to our ingenuity and scalability.

During the symposium, Mr. Ransohoff also shared his thoughts on innovation in biomanufacturing. He says the introduction of new technologies is possible but still challenging, highlighting the need for companies such as Resilience who are focused on this capability. Additionally, the benefits of any new innovations need to be consistent with the level of effort put into getting them to market.

Simon Agwale of Innovative Biotech, Nigeria also shared his experience with COVID-19 vaccine development and manufacturing in Africa. After their previous contract development and manufacturing company (CDMO) was unable to meet timelines,

Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany
MilliporeSigma
EB connected Mr. Agwale and Innovative Biotech with 2019 EB Grant Winner – Technovax. Mr. Agwale described how they are now focused on developing a virus-like particle (VLP) vaccine for COVID-19 and currently have one for the Beta and Delta variants. Trials begin in Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa soon and will finish in the third quarter of 2022. Production of the new vaccine will be done in the United States until the new factory in Nigeria is constructed with full production to follow in Africa some time in 2023.

Given all the attention the biotech sector has had over the past two years, more innovations and news are sure to follow in 2022 and beyond.

  1. Coronavirus (COVID-19) Vaccinations. https://ourworldindata.org/covid-vaccinations. Accessed December 7, 2021.

 

 

 

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