The Department of Health and Human Services awarded the contract to the Fujifilm Texas A&M Innovation Center in College Station, Texas, Trump said. He made the announcement at the Bioprocess Innovation Center at Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies in Morrisville, North Carolina, where the company is manufacturing "bulk drug substance" for a coronavirus vaccine by Novavax, which was awarded $1.6 billion by the federal government to help develop the vaccine.
"These same manufacturing processes are being conducted on an even larger scale in College Station, Texas," Trump said. "Today, I'm proud to announce that HHS has just signed a $265 million contract with the Fujifilm Texas A&M Innovation Center, which is quite the place, to dramatically expand their vaccine manufacturing capacity."
Health officials have repeatedly warned that even once a vaccine is found to be safe and effective in humans, manufacturing and distributing doses will prove to be another hurdle. Vaccine manufacturers have been ramping up manufacturing of doses before they know that the vaccine is safe and effective in order to cut the time it will take to vaccinate people.
The Texas site will support Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration's effort to accelerate the development, manufacturing and distribution of vaccines and treatments to fight the coronavirus that causes Covid-19. The task order from HHS reserves manufacturing capacity in the facility through the end of 2021, the company said in a release.
"Our leading scientists and engineers in College Station are honored to support COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing with the goal of delivering a safe and effective vaccine to the U.S. population," Dr. Gerry Farrell, chief operating officer of Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies, Texas, said in a statement. "We will allocate the reserved capacity based on direction provided by the U.S. government, and similar to our North Carolina site, we expect a portion of the reserved capacity to be allocated to Novavax, Inc. for its NVX-CoV2373 COVID-19 vaccine candidate."
The site, which is a part of the Centers for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing, was established at Texas A&M University in 2009 with support from the state, according to the school's website. Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies is a subcontractor of the university, the company said.
The company's site says it has decades of experience in the development and manufacturing of biologics, viral vaccines and gene therapies.
"To ensure we have the needed capacity, we are engaging domestic centers for advanced manufacturing that HHS has helped build in recent years," HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement. "Securing more manufacturing capacity here in America will help get a vaccine to Americans without a day wasted and prepare our nation for future emergencies."