Cyrus Poonawalla Group, the parent of vaccine developer Serum Institute of India Pvt. Ltd, has sold a Czech unit to Nasdaq-listed biotechnology company Novavax Inc. for $167 million (Rs 1,264.4 crore) in cash.
The acquisition of Praha Vaccines includes a biologics manufacturing facility and associated assets in the Czech Republic, Novavax said in a statement.
Novavax is one of companies aiming to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, the infectious disease caused by the new coronavirus, and has been looking to boost capacity to produce its vaccine candidate.
The company said that the Czech facility is likely to provide an annual capacity of more than 1 billion doses of antigen starting in 2021 for NVX‑CoV2373, its COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
“Manufacturing capacity is a critical component of our strategy to deliver a vaccine for the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Stanley C. Erck, president and CEO of Novavax.
Praha has a 150,000-square foot vaccine and biologics manufacturing facility. It has about 150 employees with significant experience in vaccine manufacturing who have joined Novavax.
Novavax also said it will work with Serum Institute to increase production at the Bohumil facility by the end of 2020.
“Novavax and Praha reflect the ideal complement of capabilities and expertise to advance innovative vaccines that are vitally needed at this critical time,” said Cyrus Poonawalla, chairman and founder of the Indian group.
Serum Institute is the world's largest vaccine manufacturer by number of doses produced. It sells more than 1.3 billion doses a year. This include vaccines for polio, tetanus, hepatitis B and measles.