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ApiJect gets $590 million U.S. loan to produce COVID-19 vaccine injections

Pre-filled syringe maker ApiJect Systems Corp was approved by the U.S. government for a $590-million loan to make single-dose injectors that are capable of delivering nearly all leading COVID-19 vaccine candidates.

The loan is part of the Trump administration’s initiatives to bolster the country’s ability to produce drugs and pharmaceutical raw materials.

The privately held company said it would build a facility in North Carolina capable of producing up to 3 billion single-dose prefilled injectors annually.

“This is going to be transformational,” ApiJect Chief Executive Officer Franco Negron told Reuters on Tuesday (November 24). “With that capacity, we’re going to do what the U.S. has always done, to show to the rest of the world and say, ‘We’re here to help.'”

The facility will support vaccine candidates that require standard cold storage or ultra-cold storage down to minus 70 degrees Celsius, it said. The loan from the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation will finance 75% of the project’s capital costs, with the remaining coming from a capital raise led by U.S. investment bank Jefferies Financial Group.

In June, glass maker Corning Inc said it would receive $204 million from the U.S. government to boost the manufacturing capacity of its vials that will be used to store coronavirus vaccines and treatments.

Billions of vials will be needed for vaccines of the new coronavirus, with world leaders looking towards treatments as a way to re-open stalled economies.

Corning said it will provide priority access of its vials to companies that have tied up with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) for developing treatments and vaccines.

The funding from BARDA will go towards scaling up production of the company’s ‘Valor Glass,’ which is designed to minimize contamination and could potentially speed up manufacturing processes.

Rutgers University Vice Chancellor for Translational Medicine and Science Reynold Panettieri said he sees plenty of space in the vaccine distribution effort for ApiJect and Corning. “There’s 350 million Americans, there’s billions globally, so I really think there is plenty of room for multiple, multiple injectors,” he said. “I’d be shocked, frankly, if only two will be on the market, I would imagine four and five will be coming out to meet the need. Sounds like an enormous amount of injectors that could be utilized. How are you going to vaccinate 300 million Americans? Just the logistics itself is mind boggling.” Earlier this month, drug companies Pfizer Inc, BioNTech and Moderna Inc reported data from late-stage COVID-19 vaccine trials that showed more than 90% efficacy. Pfizer applied to U.S. health regulators on Friday (November 20) for emergency use authorization (EUA) of its COVID-19 vaccine, the first such application in a major step toward providing protection against the new coronavirus.

(Production: Roselle Chen)

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