More COVID-19 vaccine doses will soon be made available to Americans, and they will come from a production facility in Bloomington. New Jersey-based Catalent Inc. (NYSE: CTLT) has been manufacturing the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for more than a month and is now awaiting regulatory approval to begin distributing the vaccine from the Monroe County facility. The company has also been producing the Moderna vaccine for several months and Denis Johnson, general manager of the Bloomington plant, says they are on pace to meet the commitments for both vaccines.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Johnson said the company has had to work at a very rapid pace to be able to produce the vaccines.
“I’ve never seen anything like this in the industry; I’ve been running plants for over 20 years and I’ve never seen a ramp-up this rapid at this scale,” said Johnson. “A million-square-foot plant growing as fast as this plant is growing is extremely unusual…and it’s been an interesting journey.”
Johnson says the company continues to ramp up production, which includes the addition of new equipment and employees. In an April 2020 interview with Inside INdiana Business, Johnson said they had about 1,200 workers on site. Now, he says that number has grown to more than 2,500.
“That gives you a feeling for, over the last 12 months, how rapidly the site has grown to meet this urgent demand and it’s with quite a lot of pride that I can report that we’re on track to the commitments we’ve made for both the vaccines,” said Johnson.
Catalent announced last spring it had reached a deal with J&J subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies to produce the vaccine. The company accelerated the expansion of a segregated manufacturing building that would be dedicated to filling and packaging the vaccine.
Johnson says while Catalent obviously could not see the pandemic coming, it was prepared to ramp up efforts to help.
“We had been looking forward and we knew there was growth in biologics. We had planned investments and the timing has just accelerated,” he said. “So it’s not a question of we’re going in a different direction that we intended, but if you think of this as acceleration in your car, the zero to 60 on this is different than what was anticipated. So we really had to ramp it up in order to meet the urgent need for the American public.”
Catalent says it has already produced millions of doses of the Moderna vaccine and is ready to produce millions more. The company expects to receive approval to distribute the J&J vaccine in the coming days.
Johnson says the company has had to work at a very rapid pace to be able to produce the vaccines.