Lonza to double production of Covid-19 vaccine at Swiss plant

Lonza has struggled to recruit enough workers to join its Visp plant, which now has three production lines set up and plans three more by early 2022. Keystone / Olivier Maire

Swiss biotech firm Lonza will add three more production lines to its site in Visp, southwestern Switzerland, to manufacture an active ingredient for the Moderna vaccine, as part of a larger effort to boost the global supply of doses.

This content was published on April 29, 2021 - 11:13

The new production lines will be added gradually to three existing lines and be fully operational by early 2022, Lonza said on Thursday. The two companies signed a ten-year contract in 2020 that enables Lonza to make a drug substance for the mRNA vaccine at its plant for the global market outside the United States.

In a separate press release, Moderna said it planned to increase the overall supply to up to three billion doses by 2022. The firm calculates there will be greater demand for its vaccine as the need for booster shots is likely to grow starting next year.

The announcement comes as Lonza struggles to recruit enough workers to join its Visp plant. Biotech specialists are currently in high demand worldwide as a result of the pandemic, Swiss public television, SRF, reported, adding that the interior ministry is now actively helping Lonza to find specialists from inside the federal administration and universities, including the federal technology institutes ETH Zurich and the EPFL in Lausanne.

Lonza has reportedly recruited temporary staff from food giant Nestlé with help from the Swiss government. Moderna has blamed projected delays in shipments of the vaccine to markets such as the UK and Canada on production bottlenecks, according to Reuters.

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