GLOBAL biopharmaceutical company Sanofi plans to invest 400 million euros (S$639 million) over five years to create a new vaccine production site in Singapore.
The facility will provide Sanofi with the ability to produce innovative vaccines on a massive scale for Asia, and quickly respond to future pandemic risks, according to the company's press statement on Monday.
In partnership with Singapore's Economic Development Board (EDB), the facility will use cutting-edge manufacturing and digital technologies, and create up to 200 local jobs, while enhancing Singapore's position as a regional innovation hub for the healthcare industry.
It will mainly supply the Asian region, and will complement Sanofi's existing manufacturing capacities in Europe and North America.
"Sanofi's decision to locate its first-in-Asia digitally-enabled vaccine production centre in Singapore, to supply markets in the region and beyond, is an endorsement of Singapore's position as a leading centre for advanced manufacturing," said EDB chairman Beh Swan Gin.
"EDB will continue to promote digitalisation, automation and innovation to transform the manufacturing sector and create good jobs for Singaporeans," he added.
The vaccine factory will be designed around a central unit, housing several fully digitalised modules that allow the production of three to four vaccines simultaneously, according to Sanofi's statement. This is in contrast to current industrial sites, which produce one vaccine at a time.
The facility will also have the flexibility to leverage multiple vaccine manufacturing technology platforms, based on different cell types. This will allow the production of a specific vaccine to be prioritised more quickly, depending on public health needs.
The five-year project is currently entering its design phase, with construction expected to begin in Q3 2021. The site is expected to be fully operational in Q1 2026, once all qualifications and validations of the first manufactured vaccine have been completed.
The site is also designed to be carbon-neutral, and to drastically reduce resource consumption and waste production, in line with Sanofi's environmental strategy.
Sanofi Pasteur - Sanofi's vaccines arm - is a global vaccine developer and manufacturer, with a portfolio of vaccines offering protection from diseases such as influenza, infectious diseases and endemic diseases. It employs 16,000 workers and has a dozen vaccine manufacturing sites worldwide. (see amendment note)
"As a major healthcare player, it's our responsibility to act and to meet the unprecedented growing demands for vaccines," said Thomas Triomphe, executive vice-president and global head of Sanofi Pasteur.
"By investing in a new production site in Singapore, Sanofi is aiming to strengthen production capacity to meet ever-growing global demands on vaccines, and answer more rapidly to future pandemics. We are very pleased by the strong collaboration with the Singapore Economic Development Board to achieve this exciting milestone," he added.
Amendment note: This article has been updated to reflect that it is Sanofi Pasteur (Sanofi's vaccines arm), and not Sanofi, which employs 16,000 and has a dozen vaccine manufacturing sites worldwide.