Portugal to enter vaccine production network

Portugal is about to join the integrated network producing vaccines against Covid-19.

It’s not a question of creating a ‘Portuguese’ vaccine, but of becoming part of the existing process of manufacture.

Secretary of State for Internationalisation Eurico Brilhante Dias has been explaining behind-scenes developments.

First up will be an industrial production unit in the north of the country at Paredes de Coura, in the Minho district.

The unit is currently under construction by Spanish pharmaceutical company Zendal which has signed a pre-agreement with Novavax to produce its vaccine once this has completed its final trial phase.

Says Mr Dias, the Novavax vaccine has an efficacy rating of 89%.

If all goes according to plan, production of the Novavax will take place in Portugal “as soon as construction (of the production unit) is concluded” – scheduled for December this year.

Talking to Público, the secretary of state added that Portugal has already contacted 41 companies and laboratories in 11 countries with a view to negotiating similar potential deals.

As he stressed, the decision by Zendal to invest here is “very important” as it “places the country for the first time in many years as a vaccine exporter”.

It also ‘opens the door’ to all kinds of ‘other fields in which the country can show its worth’.

“Many times, we do not value what we do”, stressed Mr Dias. “I will give you two examples: we have a Portuguese company in the pharmaceutical sector, GenIbet, which collaborated with Moderna in the development of the (Moderna) vaccine. We have a company like Medinfar which developed a serologic test that allows us to evaluate the population’s level of immunity – and this will be central for the application of a vaccine. And we have a logistical company in the north (APP Thermal) which developed with Pfizer transport solutions for vaccines that need temperatures below -70%.

“Our contribution goes beyond vaccines”, he stressed – and this is the approach the government has been using in its contacts with pharmaceutical manufacturers.

A stumbling block, nonetheless, is the raw materials needed. Indeed this is precisely why production globally has been slower than initially anticipated, said Mr Dias, adding that Portugal is working on all kinds of solutions: even the creation of a ‘therapeutic medication’ to better tackle Covid-19.

Europe’s contracts with Novavax “should be signed this week”

With the European Commission announcing new purchase agreements for a further 300 million doses of the Moderna vaccine and 200 million of the Pfizer/BioBTech, it is understood it will be investing €416 million to acquire Valneva and Novavax vaccines. The contracts should be signed by the end of this week, writes Correio da Manhã. The deal will involve 100 million doses of Novavax, and 60 million of Valneva.

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