Pharmaceutical company Sanofi is investing €900mn in two new vaccine manufacturing facilities, known as Evolutive Vaccine Facilities (EVFs), in France and Singapore.
Founded in 2004 in Paris, Sanofi manufactures prescription medication and vaccines for influenza, polio and yellow fever.
Sanofi and the evolution of vaccine manufacturing technology
Asia has a population of 4.5 billion, which is set to increase to 5.3 billion by 2050.
A future pandemic could spread even faster than COVID-19 and make social distancing more difficult, which is why efficient vaccine manufacturing is essential on the continent.
The Evolutive Vaccine Facilities (EVFs) in Singapore and France are Sanofi's biggest industrial investment and by 2025, the facilities will be fully digitalised and able to produce up to four different types of vaccines at once.
Evolutive Vaccine Facilities embrace advanced manufacturing science
The facilities will create thousands of jobs across healthcare and manufacturing.
"Sanofi's decision to locate one of its two EVFs in Singapore will strengthen the country's biopharmaceutical industry and, more broadly, its manufacturing sector,” said Dr Beh Swan Gin, chairman of the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB). "It is testament to Singapore's capabilities in advanced manufacturing and the biomedical sciences. Critically, the EVF in Singapore will also play a key role in ensuring future pandemic preparedness in Singapore and the region."
"There was also limited investment in vaccine research," said Associate Professor Hsu Li Yang, an expert in infectious diseases at the NUS Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health. "The COVID-19 pandemic appears to have changed the thinking of our policymakers, with the announcement of several companies building vaccine manufacturing plants in Singapore."
While COVID-19 will not be here forever, we need a vaccine that will be - and the capabilities to create new ones when they are needed.
"With these evolutive facilities, we are already planting the seeds and preparing for the next pandemic, and this is the level of agility that you need," said Thomas Triomphe, Sanofi's executive Vice-President for vaccines.