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Spain's Rovi plans to start manufacturing Moderna vaccine 'very soon'

Credit: REUTERS/BRIAN SNYDER

Spain's pharmaceutical firm Rovi, in charge of the "fill and finish" final stage of manufacturing for Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine candidate outside the United States, said on Tuesday it expects to start work on the vaccine "very soon" if it is approved by regulators.

By Emma Pinedo

MADRID, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Spain's pharmaceutical firm Rovi ROVI.MC, in charge of the "fill and finish" final stage of manufacturing for Moderna's MRNA.O COVID-19 vaccine candidate outside the United States, said on Tuesday it expects to start work on the vaccine "very soon" if it is approved by regulators.

The Madrid-based company, which is specialised in pre-filled syringes, plans to hire up to 80 people to help fill and pack COVID-19 vaccines, Rovi Vice-President, Javier Lopez-Belmonte, told a remotely-held press conference.

"I don't know if there will be ingredients in December or January, but (we will start manufacturing) very soon", Lopez-Belmonte said, maintaining a target to start production in early 2021.

Lopez-Belmonte declined to give any financial estimates on the vaccine deal for Rovi but he said it would be "substantial".

Rovi is planning to fill and pack millions of doses of the vaccine in a new production line in one of its plants in Madrid.

There is no approved COVID-19 vaccine yet, but several are in advanced trials, including from Pfizer Inc PFE.N, Johnson & Johnson JNJ.N and Moderna, whose candidate relies on technology never previously approved that enlists human cells to help trigger an immune response.

Moderna Inc MRNA.O said last month it was on track to produce 20 million doses of its vaccine by the end of the year, while maintaining its goal of readying 500 million to 1 billion doses in 2021..

The American group is also working with Swiss group Lonza AG LONN.S to scale up the manufacturing and production of its potential COVID-19 vaccine to supply markets outside the United States.

(Reporting by Emma Pinedo; additional reporting by Jesús Aguado; editing by Ingrid Melander and Louise Heavens)

((emma.pinedo@thomsonreuters.com; 918 35 68 34; Reuters Messaging: emma.pinedo.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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