In Hauts-de-France, GSK produces an adjuvant for vaccines against COVID-19
Highly committed to the fight against COVID19 , the British group has launched, at Saint-Amand-les-Eaux, the production of an adjuvant that can be used in the development of several vaccines against COVID 19.
The adjuvant could be used by the pharmaceutical and research laboratories with which GSK is currently collaborating, such as French Sanofi, the Chinese Clover Biopharmaceuticals and the Canadian Medicago.
“As an international company with a strong presence in France, we are working to locate strategic projects in France, such as the current manufacturing of our pandemic adjuvant at the Saint-Amand-les-Eaux site, which is destined for the whole world. The issue of the COVID-19 vaccine is also an industrial issue: our company did not wait for the end of the clinical development plan to start producing through its production network, including here in France! Supporting the teams at the Saint-Amand-les-Eaux site, who are preparing for the arrival of Covid-19 vaccines, is a great source of pride for all GSK France employees” commented Josephine Comiskey, President of GSK France.
The adjuvant is a major asset for manufacturers. By increasing the immune response, it makes it possible to reduce the amount of antigen needed per dose and therefore to produce more vaccines.
All together, the company plans to produce 1 billion doses in 2021, while maintaining production of the site’s other vaccines.
“Together with the teams at the Saint-Amand-les-Eaux site, we are very proud to be part of GSK’s global response to fight against COVID-19. Our goal is to produce several hundred million doses of adjuvant by 2021 here at Saint-Amand-les-Eaux, while continuing to produce GSK’s other life-saving vaccines. It’s not one or the other: the ambition is to do both, doing everything possible to ensure the highest standards of quality and safety for patients. As a team, we are doing our utmost to meet this challenge! “commented Éric Moreau, Director of the Saint-Amand-les-Eaux site.
GSK is recruiting 100 people in Hauts-de-France
In order to cope with the planned ramp-up in the production of the adjuvant, GSK launched a recruitment campaign this summer.
100 jobs will be created, for production, maintenance and quality operators and technicians.
The production of the adjuvant, which is based on the manufacturing equipment used during the H1N1 epidemic, requires additional staff training.
“It is very technical equipment. There is a long training period for our teams. It takes at least three months, and after the three months, the person is still followed by ‘godparents’ who accompany him or her until the day when he or she will be able to produce alone,” explains Elodie Plaisant, production manager.
Why is the GSK site in the Hauts-de-France strategic for the group?
The Saint-Amand plant is a major site in GSK’s production network and benefits from the advantages of the Hauts-de-France region, notably:
- An ideal geographical location close to the group’s head office in Wavre (Belgium),
- The skilled and abundant labour force, allowing for a rapid increase in the number of employees
But also factors inherent to the group:
– Modern equipment, thanks to the group’s major investments in the region (between 2006 and 2013, GSK has invested more than €600 million in its Saint-Amand-les-Eaux site).
– The competence of the teams in place
The site has a maximum production capacity of 300 million doses and employs more than 900 people.
It produced 140 million units of vaccines in 2019, 95% of which were exported to more than 125 countries worldwide.