Novartis has reached a preliminary agreement with CureVac to manufacture the mRNA and bulk drug product for the latter’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate CVnCoV.

The companies are currently under preparations for manufacturing, technology transfer and conducting test runs of the vaccine candidate.

The Swiss drugmaker will leverage its manufacturing capacity and capabilities to support the global supply of CVnCoV to address the Covid-19 pandemic.

Novartis executive committee member and technical operations global head Steffen Lang said: “We feel it is our responsibility to do everything in our power to help and we are pleased to announce our collaboration with CureVac.

“At the Kundl site, Novartis is a pioneer and has decades of experience in pharmaceutical production of proteins and in more recent years of nucleic acids.

“We are currently expanding our site with additional capacities for the production of mRNA in order to best serve the increasing demand.”

Novartis intends to commence the production of vaccine components in the second quarter of 2021 and deliver the initial bulk drug product to CureVac in summer 2021.

The company will undertake the production at its new high-tech production facility, already under construction at the Novartis Kundl, Austria site.

Manufacturing of CureVac’s CVnCoV vaccine is highly complex, and its site is modified according to the needs of messenger RNA vaccine production, said the company.

Novartis is expected to manufacture up to 50 million doses of the mRNA and bulk drug product for CVnCoV in 2021 and up to 200 additional million doses in 2022.

The company would deliver the bulk drug product to CureVac for further processing and filling operations.

CureVac chief production officer Florian von der Mülbe said: “I am very pleased that with Novartis we have found another highly experienced partner to support the production of our vaccine candidate.

“Together with Novartis, we expect to increase significantly our manufacturing capacity and place our production network on an even broader base.”

CureVac has previously teamed up with Bayer, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and other companies, for Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing.