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Tesla to offer "microfactories" to scale up production of CureVac's potential COVID-19 vaccine

Published on 06/07/20 at 12:13pm
Image credit: JD Lasica, https://www.flickr.com/photos/jdlasica/3018710552

Electric car firm Tesla has announced it will be supplying mobile molecular printer capacity to German firm CureVac, and possibly others, to help scale up manufacture of its potential COVID-19 vaccine.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk made the announcement personally over Twitter on 1 July, tweeting: “Tesla, as a side project, is building RNA microfactories for CureVac & possibly others.”

These “microfactories” are designed to be portable and automated, able to be shipped out to remote sites and generate CureVac’s COVID-19 prophylactic therapy, or other mRNA therapies depending on the “recipe” they are given. In the event the company’s vaccine is approved, these microfactories could help produce hundreds of millions of doses.

Musk also confirmed that these microfactories would be manufactured at Tesla’s Grohmann Automation plant, acquired by the company in 2016, but other details on the partnership were not forthcoming.

“In principle, I think synthetic RNA (and DNA) has amazing potential. This basically makes the solution to many diseases a software problem,” he said in a separate tweet, praising CureVac’s  mRNA technology platform.

CureVac has already secured $300 million from the German Government and backing from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. On 17 June, the firm received approval to push testing for its vaccine candidate forward into Phase 1 clinical trials.

The company made headlines in March after its promising COVID-19 vaccine candidate caught the eye of US President Donald Trump, who reportedly attempted to acquire exclusive US rights to the therapy, launching a public showdown with the European Commission which offered €80 million as a counter offer to the company.  

Matt Fellows

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