Takeda grants J&J German production capacity for COVID-19 shot

(Reuters) - Germany’s IDT Biologica said on Monday it would make Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine using capacity previously reserved by Japan’s Takeda, helping to ease concerns about the U.S. drugmaker’s ability to meet its production goals.

FILE PHOTO: A vial of the Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine is seen at Northwell Health's South Shore University Hospital in Bay Shore, New York, U.S., March 3, 2021. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo

IDT said it will fill and package the COVID-19 shot, which was approved by the European Union’s drug regulator last week, for a period of three months after which it will resume making Japan-based drugmaker Takeda’s dengue vaccine candidate.

“I am grateful to our long-standing customer Takeda for its flexibility, which enables us to provide the world with much-needed COVID-19 vaccines,” said IDT Biologika Chief Executive Juergen Betzing.

J&J’s vaccine, authorised in the United States on Feb. 27, is the first single-dose coronavirus vaccine alongside two-shot vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna Inc .

The drugmaker has been working to expand manufacturing capacity for its vaccine and previously tapped contract manufacturers such as Catalent and Emergent to scale up production and meet global supply goals.

J&J’s chief scientist Paul Stoffels told Reuters on Thursday that the drugmaker is deploying three manufacturing plants globally to produce the vaccine’s active substance and it will also have seven plants to fill and finish.

It was not clear whether IDT’s plant, which will fill and bottle vials for worldwide distribution, was part of the seven or an additional facility.

Merck & Co and France’s Sanofi agreed to help make J&J’s vaccine earlier this year.

A European Union official told Reuters earlier this month J&J had flagged possible supply issues that may affect its plans to deliver 55 million vaccine doses to the bloc in the second quarter of the year.

IDT is already producing AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, as well as developing its own shot against the coronavirus, while Takeda is handling the Japanese approval process, import and distribution of coronavirus vaccines from Moderna Inc and Novavax Inc.

Reporting by Manas Mishra and Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru and Caroline Copley in Berlin; Additional reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta, Kirsten Donovan