Thu, 02 Dec 2021

LJUBLJANA, Oct. 21 (Xinhua) -- Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis has agreed with German biotechnology company BioNTech to fill into vials the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at its unit in Slovenia next year, Novartis Slovenia said on Thursday.

At least 24 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccine will be filled in 2022, it said in a statement.

"Under the terms of the new initial agreement, Novartis plans to take bulk mRNA active ingredient from BioNTech and fill this into vials under sterile conditions for shipment back to BioNTech for its distribution," it said.

The manufacturing process will be transferred from Novartis's facility in Stein, Switzerland to Ljubljana in the first half of next year, the company said.

So far, no COVID-19 vaccines have been produced or filled in Slovenia. The country last week recommended the priority use of mRNA vaccines, saying that vector vaccines should only be used if a person requests it specifically or if a person has contraindications to mRNA vaccines.

Slovenia has been badly hit by COVID-19 and the number of newly confirmed cases has been on the rise over the past month. The country confirmed 1,845 new cases on Wednesday compared to 1,082 cases a week before. So far, 52.5 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated, according to the National Institute of Public Health.

Pfizer/BioNTech's is the most used COVID-19 vaccine in the country. Slovenia has two million citizens and has so far administered about 1.5 million vaccine doses, the national news agency STA reported.

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