The U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services (HHS) and Dept. of Defense (DoD) announced a joint effort to increase manufacturing for vials earmarked for COVID-19-related drugs and vaccines.
Under the Trump Administration’s “Operation Warp Speed,” HHS and DoD plan to scale up domestic manufacturing capacity for the vials that could be needed for vaccines and drugs in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as well as future public health emergencies, according to a news release.
BARDA is partnering with and offering $204 million to Corning in return for manufacturing capacity expansion to produce an additional 164 million Valor glass vials each year if needed. Corning will accelerate manufacturing at its facilities in Durham, N.C., Big Flats, N.Y., and Vineland, N.J.
According to the release, Valor glass allows for rapid filling and capping methods that can increase manufacturing throughput by as much as 50% compared to conventional filling lines. They’ve also shown to be stronger than conventional glass vials.
BARDA is also offering $143 million to Auburn, Ala.-based SiO2 Materials Science, to ramp up capacity for its glass-like coat plastic container for drugs and vaccines. SiO2 expects to hire 150 additional workers in Lee County, Ala., to support the new manufacturing lines as it anticipates the ability to produce an additional 120 million vials per year if needed.
“The COVID-19 pandemic clearly demonstrates the need to bring manufacturing back to America, a priority President Trump has emphasized since his first day in office,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in the release. “With an estimated 90 percent of medical vials made overseas, foreign dependence could delay efforts to protect Americans with essential treatments and vaccines. With the actions HHS and DOD are taking today, the Trump Administration’s Operation Warp Speed is building our capacity to respond to public health emergencies, including COVID-19.”