Canadian firm Microbix Biosystems has entered into a definitive agreement with the Hunan provincial government to establish a manufacturing facility in China that will produce influenza vaccine using Microbix’s Virusmax technology.

Jointly owned by Microbix and the Hunan provincial government, the $200-million facility will be one of the largest influenza vaccine plants in the world. It is expected to be operational in 2013 and will have a capacity to produce 100 million doses of flu vaccine a year. The plant will be located in the Hunan Liuyang Biomedical Industrial Park in Hunan Province.

China is one of the largest countries in the world that currently does not have domestic manufacturing capacity to supply its population with seasonal and pandemic influenza vaccines. According to Mr Chen Zhaoxiong, Vice Governor of Hunan, currently only about 2 percent of the age group most susceptible to influenza is able to get vaccine in China – compared to 20 percent in advanced countries. Access to Virusmax is therefore of enormous benefit, especially in the event of a pandemic, since the technology will enable the new facility to produce more vaccine in shorter periods of time.

Dr Marie-Paule Kieny, Director of the World Health Organization's Initiative for Vaccine Research, said the establishment of this facility in China is excellent news, as it would contribute significantly to pandemic vaccine preparedness, both at the global level and for the Asian region.

Microbix will lead a team of globally recognized experts in the industry to design, construct, and operate the facility. It will receive management fees during the design, development and commissioning phases of the project, and then will receive royalty payments on sales of vaccine. The company also has exclusive marketing rights outside China.