A South Carolina pharmaceutical company has been subcontracted to produce millions of single-dose prefilled syringes intended for administering COVID-19 vaccines.
The Ritedose Corp. announced Thursday that it has been selected as a subcontractor to ApiJect, which was retained by the Department of Defense and Department of Health and Human Services to find an alternative to glass vials, which are more expensive and take longer to produce.
ApiJect utilized a system called "blow-fill-seal" to mold the syringes or containers, fill and then seal them in one continuous motion to keep the contents sterile.
The $138 million federal contract allowed the company to ensure that the plastic syringes would not interfere or interact differently with the vaccine and that temperature controls could be adequately implemented if needed.
“In just a few months, the teams from ApiJect and Ritedose repurposed and upgraded equipment that provides the capacity to fill and finish up to 45 million prefilled syringes per month," Ritedose CEO Jody Chastain said in a statement. "Once underway, this work will involve a significant expansion of our Columbia operations and capabilities, which we will support with an increase in our South Carolina workforce"
The Trump administration's Project Jumpstart is aiming for 100 million plastic syringes by the end of 2020, and 500 million in 2021 from ApiJect, according to the Center for American Progress, a nonprofit research and advocacy group.
ApiJect also was approved for a $590 million federal loan from the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation to build a 185-acre manufacturing campus, called the Gigafactory, in North Carolina's Research Triangle Park, the (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier reported. The campus will be able to package high volumes of vaccines, beginning with COVID-19, in the event of a national emergency.
On Friday, drugmakers Pfizer and BioNTech announced they will apply for an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for their coronavirus vaccines.