Spain's Reig Jofre to manufacture J&J's COVID-19 vaccine in Barcelona

BARCELONA, Dec 15 (Reuters) - Spanish pharmaceutical company Reig Jofre said on Tuesday it had reached an agreement with Johnson & Johnson to produce the U.S. company’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine at its plant in Barcelona.

J&J’s Janssen subsidiary will transfer the technology required for large-scale manufacture of the vaccine candidate to Reig Jofre, allowing production to get underway once the shot receives regulatory approval, the Spanish company said in a statement.

Under the terms of the agreement, Reig Jofre said it will be responsible for the formulation, filling and packaging of the vaccine, while Janssen will handle distribution.

Shares in the Spanish group surged 17% in early trade to 4.41 euros ($5.35) a share.

Reig Jofre said last month it would able to produce 50 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine a year at its new factory without cancelling any existing contracts.

The company’s new plant in Barcelona is under construction and due to start operating in the first quarter of 2021.

Reig Jofre CEO Ignasi Biosca told Reuters in July the company should have the capacity to produce between one million to two million vaccine doses per day next year.

Biosca said it could invest an additional 2-3 million euros to adapt its new plant for the final step in the production process of putting the COVID-19 vaccine into vials or syringes, such as guaranteeing the low temperature needed to preserve the vaccine. ($1 = 0.8238 euros) (Reporting by Joan Faus and Nathan Allen; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)