Supported by the Vietnamese Government and Health Ministry, Vingroup and Arcturus Therapeutics Holdings Inc. (Nasdaq: ARCT) announced a contract regarding a collaboration to establish a manufacturing facility in Vietnam for the manufacture of Arcturus’ mRNA COVID-19 vaccine candidate for sales and use in Vietnam. With a planned capacity of up to 200 million doses per year, Vingroup is expected to produce its first batches of the COVID-19 vaccine in early 2022.
On July 23, Vietnamese Prime Minister chaired an online meeting discussing vaccine production. Accordingly, Vietnam’s largest conglomerate Vingroup is reported to be negotiating the transfer of COVID-19 vaccine technology with Arcturus Therapeutics with expectations of beginning clinical trials in Vietnam from August, local media reported.
Arcturus Therapeutics is a leading clinical stage company focused on messenger RNA (mRNA) medicines – one of the most advanced medicinal technologies in the world. Under the terms of the arrangement, VinBioCare – a member of Vingroup – will, with consultation from Arcturus, build out a manufacturing facility in Vietnam; and Arcturus will provide to VinBioCare access to proprietary technologies and processes for the final drug product manufacturing of Arcturus’ investigational COVID-19 vaccine. Arcturus will provide VinBioCare with an exclusive license to manufacture the vaccine at the Vietnam facility solely for sales and use in Vietnam.
VinBioCare’s vaccine factory is located inside VinSmart’s electronic equipment complex in Hoa Lac Hi-tech Park (Thach That District, Hanoi), with a total estimated investment of 200 million USD and capacity of 200 million doses per year.
Currently, VinBioCare has already signed equipment procurement contracts for this factory. As planned, all equipment will be transported to Vietnam via special flights to ensure timely arrivals in September 2021. So far, construction has also completed while the installation of equipment is expected to be finalized in November 2021.
To ensure the highest production standards, VinBioCare has cooperated with Rieckermann (Germany) – one of the leading machinery & industrial solution providers in the pharmaceuticals industry – to promptly carry out the construction of the 8,807m2 factory following GMP requirements.
“In response to the Vietnamese Government’s guideline on COVID-19 vaccine supply for Vietnam in the time of limited source of supply and outbreaks, Vingroup has proactively looked for prestigious international partners for cooperation and conducted procurement and construction of the vaccine factory as quickly as possible.” – said Vingroup’s Vice Chairwoman Le Thi Thu Thuy. “Vingroup really expects to make a modest contribution to the fight against COVID-19 in Vietnam and the world, so that all people can live a normal life again.”
Arcturus investigational COVID-19 vaccines utilizes Arcturus’ lipid-mediated delivery system called LUNAR® delivery system, and Arcturus’ self-amplifying mRNA technology, known as STARR™. This self-amplifying technology is designed to promote a prolonged immune response using a lower dose compared to conventional mRNA vaccines. mRNA vaccine technology enables rapid modification of the antigen that could help to accelerate the development of vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 variants.
Notably, the vaccine candidate, called VBC-COV19-154 domestically, can be made in a lyophilized powder form which is favorable for packaging, storage, transport, distribution and supply.
As planned, VinBioCare will coordinate with the Vietnamese Health Ministry’s Administration of Science Technology & Training to carry out Phase 1/2/3 clinical trials of VBC-COV19-154 vaccine on 20,000 people in August 2021.
In December 2021, VinBioCare plan to complete and submit procedures to the Health Ministry to ask for approval for VBC-COV19-154 vaccine for emergency use in Vietnam.
Once produced domestically, VBC-COV19-154 is expected to be cheaper than products of similar segment in the market. Notably, VinBioCare will provide COVID-19 vaccine at break-even price excluding investment costs in Vietnam during the time of pandemic.