Moderna starts shipping supplies of Covid-19 vaccine in Europe
Ireland is in line for just under 900,000 doses of the two-jab vaccine this year under an agreement brokered with the US company by the EU.
The Covid vaccine is the first product Moderna has had approved for market supply. It said all supplies in Europe would be distributed by experienced industry operator Kuehne & Nagel.
“This is a really exciting milestone,” said Dan Staner, vice-president and head of EMEA region for Moderna. “Distribution across the European Union is one of the largest logistical undertakings that Moderna has faced since starting this platform 10 years ago. I am in awe of the dedicated team that has got us here, and am indebted to all the partners, suppliers and the European Commission for their help and support along the way.”
The news comes as pharma giant Pfizer said it has begun offering its own staff access to the Covid-19 vaccine the company developed with German company BioNTech.
The US company, which employs more than 3,000 people in Ireland, said it was targeting all “site-essential” employees “who are critical to the vaccine effort and the continued supply of all Pfizer medicines”. That includes workers at manufacturing and research sites.
Staff vaccination started this week at the company’s Covid-19 manufacturing operations in Puurs in Belgium and in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It will be expanded to other sites in the Pfizer network on a rolling basis, the company said. That will include its three manufacturing plants in Ireland – at Grange Castle in Dublin, Ringaskiddy in Cork and Newbridge, Co Kildare.
Pfizer said it had around 15,000 employees and on-site contractors in EU states whom it considered to be site-essential
That will entail 30,000 doses of the vaccine. A spokeswoman for the company said these doses will not be taken from those already committed to various governments under supply agreement, including Ireland, and “will not impact supply to national governments in any way”.
The drug giant is concerned that the ongoing spread of the virus in the current surge might risk vaccine supplies and supplies of other critical medicines if there was an outbreak at any of its sites.
The company will notify the HSE of those vaccinated to ensure accurate records for the ongoing national rollout of the vaccine here.
“Ensuring supply of our medicines and continuation of critical research and development work across therapeutic areas, including cardiovascular disease and cancer, is a priority for global health, particularly given the current burden on health systems around the world as a result of Covid-19,” the company said.
Separately, BioNTech announced that, with Pfizer, it plans to supply an additional 500 million doses of their Covid-19 vaccine this year thanks to a new factory in Germany and adjusted European guidelines that allow for an extra shot to be extracted from each vial.
The companies had originally pledged to make 1.5 billion doses in 2021 but now intend to provide as many as two billion, BioNTech said in a statement. – additional reporting, The Financial Times Limited 2021
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