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Spain's Reig Jofre to manufacture J&J's COVID-19 vaccine, shares soar

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Spanish pharmaceutical Reig Jofre said on Tuesday it had agreed with Johnson & Johnson to produce the U.S. company’s COVID-19 vaccine, becoming the third Spanish company to be chosen to take part in manufacturing coronavirus vaccines.

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After the announcement, Reig Jofre’s stock price surged 32% to 4.99 euros ($6.07) a share, on track for its best day ever.

J&J’s Janssen subsidiary will transfer the technology required for large-scale manufacture of the vaccine candidate to Reig Jofre, allowing production at its plant in Barcelona to get underway once the shot receives regulatory approval, the Spanish company said in a statement.

Under the terms of the agreement, Reig Jofre said it will be responsible for the formulation, filling and packaging of the vaccine, while Janssen will handle distribution.

The company’s new plant in Barcelona is under construction and due to start operating in the first quarter of 2021.

Spain’s pharmaceutical firm Rovi was selected in October for the fill and finish final stage of manufacturing for Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine outside the United States, which is expected to start in early 2021.

In September, Spanish biopharmaceutical group Zendal said it would handle production in the European Union of the antigen of U.S. Novavax’s coronavirus vaccine project.

Reig Jofre said last month it would able to produce 50 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine a year at its new factory without cancelling any existing contracts.

The company’s CEO Ignasi Biosca told Reuters in July the company should have the capacity to produce between one million to two million vaccine doses per day next year.

Biosca said it could invest an additional 2-3 million euros to adapt its plant for the final step in the production process of putting the vaccine into vials or syringes, such as guaranteeing the low temperature needed to preserve it.

($1 = 0.8224 euros)

Reporting by Joan Faus and Nathan Allen; additional reporting by Emma Pinedo; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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