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Washington Post: scarcity of biotech ingredients

February 21, 2021

Andrey Zarur, CEO of GreenLight Biosciences, spoke to The Washington Post about the scarcity of biotech ingredients and the impact on Covid-19 vaccine supply.

Credit:  James MacDonald/Bloomberg News

Andrey Zarur, CEO of GreenLight Biosciences, spoke to The Washington Post about the scarcity of biotech ingredients and the impact on Covid-19 vaccine supply. An extract from the articles is below:

Pfizer-BioNTech made agreements this month for more supply from two German companies, but that new capacity will not come online for months.

One of those German suppliers, Merck KGaA (which is not related to the American pharmaceutical manufacturer Merck & Co.), said in a Feb. 5 news release that it would “significantly accelerate the supply of urgently needed lipids,” with delivery “toward the end of 2021.” A second German company, Evonik, said last week it was ramping up lipid supply that would be available in the second half of this year.

“They have multiple dependencies on third parties for supply of the materials,” said Andrey Zarur, chief executive of GreenLight Biosciences, a biotechnology company that is working on its own mRNA vaccine.

Executives in the industry also pointed to potential bottlenecks in the production of certain nucleotides and DNA plasmids (which provide the blueprint for the mRNA in vaccine), as well as synthetic capping agents that attach to the end of a string of mRNA.


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