Morrisville company working on COVID-19 vaccine to receive visit from Trump


MORRISVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — President Trump on Monday will visit a Morrisville facility working to manufacture a potential COVID-19 vaccine.

FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies’ Innovation Center is manufacturing components of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed by Novavax, said the company’s CEO Martin Meeson.

“The pandemic is something that is affecting us all. To have a chance to work on something that might have a significant impact, it’s very motivating, very exciting,” Meeson said.

According to Meeson, the facility is manufacturing the bulk drug substance for Novavax’ COVID-19 vaccine candidate. He says the process, which normally takes several months, has been compressed down to several weeks. 

“We take the cells and we grow them up. We extract the product that we need and then we hand that substance off to our partner, Novavax, who then take on the next steps and get that ready for preparation,” he said.

President Trump will tour the facility Monday, and is expected to speak afterward.

“The facility in North Carolina is beautiful. It’s state of the art,” said Peter Navarro, director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy.

According to Navarro, typically developing a vaccine is done in sequences and takes several years. First developing the vaccine, running clinical trials and then a pharmaceutical company would invest in manufacturing the product.

Narvarro says the effort to develop and manufacture COVID19 vaccine candidates is being done simultaneously.

“As the five different companies like Novavax, Pfizer and others are developing their vaccine and getting it through clinical trials, we are also simultaneously developing the manufacturing  capability to produce literally billions of doses of a vaccine that turns out to be the one or two that look like they are going to work,” Navarro said.

Meeson says the manufacturing process is already underway at the FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies’ Innovation Center.

“I’m just so proud of the team and the work they’ve been able to do,” he said.

The COVID-19 candidate Novavax is developing is currently in a Phase 1clinical trial, and is expected to move to Phase 2 next month and Phase 3 in the fall, according to the White House.

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