Wacker subsidiary on the Weinberg Campus awarded government contract for vaccination production during pandemics

The company plans to hire more than 200 new employees as part of the expansion of its Halle site.

As a result of the initial vaccine shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic, the German federal government is now working to ensure that there will be sufficient production capacity and supplies of vaccines over the coming years. Pharmaceutical companies with the necessary expertise and facilities for vaccine production have been invited to tender for pandemic preparedness contracts. Wacker Biotech, which is based in Weinberg Campus Technology Park in Halle (Saale), submitted a bid together with the pharmaceutical company CordenPharma for the production readiness of vaccines based on messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA). The companies have announced that they have been awarded the contract, together with four other firms. If the COVID-19 pandemic continues or a new pandemic emerges, Wacker Biotech and CordenPharma will manufacture 80 million vaccine doses per year. The German government also has the option of increasing the volume to 100 million doses per year. The companies will receive an annual preparedness payment for the provision of the production capacity. The preparedness phase will begin in 2024, after the companies have established the necessary capacity, and will end in 2029.

“With our expertise in the manufacture of mRNA vaccines, we are pleased to be able to contribute to combating future pandemics. Together with our partner CordenPharma, we will be producing vaccines for Germany to meet future demand,” said Wacker CEO Christian Hartel.

“This gives another major boost to Halle as a location for business and research. It shows that we have an excellent reputation in the region as a driving force for research and innovation. We will provide the company with effective, targeted support for the realisation of its investment. I would like to congratulate Wacker on winning the government contract and on the accompanying growth of Wacker Biotech in our city,” said Egbert Geier, mayor of the city of Halle (Saale).

“The expansion of the production capacity here at the Weinberg Campus underlines the expertise that our companies have in developing mRNA active ingredients. It is a demonstration of the international competitiveness of the location,” explained Dr Ulf-Marten Schmieder, managing director of Weinberg Campus Technology Park.

Since 2014, Wacker has had a biotech facility at the Weinberg Campus Technology Park in Halle (Saale). The development of the pandemic preparedness capacity is part of a larger expansion project. “We are turning our Halle site into a centre of excellence for mRNA production. This involves creating the capacity for pandemic preparedness and also going further,” commented Susanne Leonhartsberger, head of the Wacker Biosolutions business unit. The company is planning to add a total of four new production lines and to hire more than 200 new employees as part of the expansion of its Halle site. During a capital market day at the end of March, Wacker announced that it would significantly increase its investment in the growth of its biotechnology business. Over the next few years, Wacker intends to invest more than 80 million euros here on an annual basis.

When the preparedness phase begins in 2024, Wacker and CordenPharma will have production capacity ready for use as required. If vaccines are needed, the German government will put the two companies in contact with the firm which developed the mRNA vaccine that needs to be produced. Wacker and CordenPharma will then work together to manufacture the mRNA vaccine. The majority of the stages in the production process will take place in Germany and all of them will take place within the European Union.

Wacker will in future be manufacturing plasmid DNA (pDNA) in Halle, which is an essential precursor for mRNA production. The mRNA active ingredient which is based on pDNA will also be made in Halle. In addition, the formulation of the mRNA active ingredient with lipid nanoparticles (LNP) will take place in the city. Capacity will be made available in Halle for these three stages of production. Other Wacker sites will help with the rapid development of the necessary technological expertise for the production of pDNA and mRNA in Halle.

About Wacker Biotech
Wacker Biotech brings together all the biopharmaceutical activities of the Wacker Group. Wacker Biotech GmbH, Wacker Biotech B.V. and Wacker Biotech US Inc. are full-service contract manufacturers of therapeutic proteins, live microbial products (LMPs), plasmid DNA (pDNA), messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) and vaccines based on microbial systems. The companies’ portfolio ranges from strain/process development and analytical testing to production for clinical and commercial applications. Wacker Biotech has three GMP-compliant (Good Manufacturing Practice), FDA- and EMA-certified production plants at its German sites in Jena and Halle and in Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Since February 2021, Wacker Biotech has also had a site in San Diego in the USA (Wacker Biotech US Inc.). Wacker Biotech GmbH, Wacker Biotech B.V. and Wacker Biotech US Inc. are wholly owned subsidiaries of the Munich-based company Wacker Chemie AG.

For more information, see: wacker.com/biologics