French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi is already preparing for future pandemics by investing €900mn in two new vaccine facilities, in Singapore and France, known as Evolutive Vaccine Facilities (EVFs).
Sanofi was founded in Paris in 2004 and provides vaccines for influenza, polio and yellow fever, while also manufacturing prescription medication.
Sanofi and the evolution of vaccine technology in healthcare
Asia covers 30% of the world's land mass and totals 59% of the global population, yet Asia’s population is set to increase. A future pandemic could spread even faster than COVID-19 and make social distancing more difficult.
The Evolutive Vaccine Facilities (EVFs) in Singapore and France are Sanofi's biggest industrial investment.
By 2025, the facilities will be fully digitalised and able to produce up to four different types of vaccines at once. It plans to be ready to face the next pandemic and create a vaccine quickly.
Post-COVID-19, the healthcare industry must prepare for the next pandemic
While COVID-19 will not be here forever, we need a vaccine that will be - and the capabilities to create new ones when they are needed.
"With these evolutive facilities, we are already planting the seeds and preparing for the next pandemic, and this is the level of agility that you need," said Thomas Triomphe, Sanofi's executive Vice-President for vaccines.
The pandemic has caused the healthcare sector to think differently and move with resilience in mind.
"There was also limited investment in vaccine research," said Associate Professor Hsu Li Yang, an expert in infectious diseases at the NUS Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health. "The COVID-19 pandemic appears to have changed the thinking of our policymakers, with the announcement of several companies building vaccine manufacturing plants in Singapore."
The facilities will create thousands of jobs - and not just in healthcare, but in manufacturing too.
"Sanofi's decision to locate one of its two EVFs in Singapore will strengthen the country's biopharmaceutical industry and, more broadly, its manufacturing sector,” said Dr Beh Swan Gin, chairman of the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB). "It is testament to Singapore's capabilities in advanced manufacturing and the biomedical sciences. Critically, the EVF in Singapore will also play a key role in ensuring future pandemic preparedness in Singapore and the region."