A five-year deal has been agreed between speciality chemical company Croda Health Care and US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer to supply high-purity lipids used in the manufacture of a COVID-19 vaccine, Croda announced on 10 November.

The contract is for the supply of novel excipients for use in the vaccine, which is in the final stages of testing and has shown to be more than 90% effective in preventing the virus.

Excipients are used in vaccines to aid the manufacturing process, to protect, support or enhance stability, or for bioavailability or patient acceptability. Novel excipients are excipients that are being used for the first time in a drug product or by a new method of administration.

Croda’s recently acquired subsidiary Avanti Polar Lipids (Avanti), specialises in the development of high-purity lipids in order to produce research and clinical trial quantities of excipients to stabilise formulations and enable intravenous delivery for drug and vaccine applications.

Prior to, and since, the August 2020 acquisition, Croda and Avanti had been working together to refine the processes involved in achieving the volumes of high-purity excipients required by pharmaceutical customers.

“I’m very proud of Croda’s involvement in the battle to fight the most significant pandemic that we have seen in a generation,” Croda CEO Steve Foots said. “The application of our innovative capabilities is testament to the strong progress we have made to create industry-leading drug delivery systems, focused on developing speciality excipients and adjuvants to improve the effectiveness and stability of complex drug actives and vaccines.”

The five-year Pfizer contract awards Croda an initial supply contract for four component excipients used in the production of the vaccine candidate for the first three years of the contract. Demand remains subject to relevant approvals.

On its website, Pfizer said the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was 94% effective for those over 65. The companies were expecting to produce up to 50M vaccine doses in 2020 and up to 1.3bn doses by the end of 2021.