BioSpectrum Asia|June 2020
Benoit Opsomer, Vice President & Head of BioProcessing, Asia Pacific, Merck Pte. Ltd, Singapore
How do you describe the crucial steps and measures in COVID-19 vaccine development?
A major factor that contributed to the acceleration of vaccine development for the SARS-CoV-2 virus (COVID-19) has been the early and speedy identification of the novel coronavirus’ genome sequencing, which contributed to an array of vaccination and treatment development efforts around the world.
Diagnostic tests play a critical role in the global effort to contain and fight the virus. These tests help physicians determine the presence or absence of a disease in patients, and their findings are crucial to making treatment decisions. The spread of COVID-19 has demonstrated the importance of diagnostics and will have a lasting impact on a national and global level, reshaping how governments and healthcare players deal with future pandemics.
With the global population exceeding 7.5 billion, vaccine developers require unprecedented capabilities for large-scale production of any approved therapies to meet the demand.
While we don’t produce vaccines ourselves, Merck has over four decades of experience in supporting customers in vaccine development and manufacturing, which is being leveraged during this critical time. Our biggest value add is our experience, not just in terms of routine business operations, but as a reliable and agile technology partner.
Can you elaborate on the significant role Merck is playing at the Jenner Institute and the wider vaccine development ecosystem?
In partnership with the Jenner Institute, we have laid the foundation for large-scale production of the institute’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate: ChAdOx1 nCoV-19. We are supporting the institute’s development process by scaling up downstream unit operations, preparing for mass production efforts, as well as enabling the seamless technology transfer to the Institute’s contract manufacturing organizations.
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