Ginkgo Bioworks To Expand Biosecurity and Pandemic Response Platform with $1.1B Federal Loan
BOSTON, Nov. 25, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Ginkgo Bioworks announced today that the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) has approved a loan of up to $1.1 billion, enabling Ginkgo to expand ongoing biosecurity efforts. These include optimizing the manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines, delivering widespread testing, and building the infrastructure needed to help identify, prevent, and respond to future pandemics. Under the Defense Production Act (DPA), DFC, in coordination with the U.S. Departments of Defense (DOD) and Health and Human Services (HHS), supports domestic initiatives that will aid in the fight against COVID-19 within the United States.
"DFC is proud to support this American company in the fight against COVID-19," said DFC Chief Executive Officer Adam Boehler. "Ginkgo is working to provide Americans with needed testing capacity and vaccine supplies which will facilitate our recovery from this global pandemic."
"The ability to manufacture vaccines and improve our testing capabilities is among our top priorities to stop this pandemic," said HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, M.D. "Pursuing unique financial tools to shore up our domestic production capabilities reduces America's reliance on foreign suppliers and manufacturers and contributes to the readiness of the nation to surge domestic production of medical countermeasures, save lives, and defeat this virus."
Just as data centers can run everything from Instagram to critical digital infrastructure, Ginkgo's automated laboratories are used in a wide array of applications across health, agriculture, and consumer products. Ginkgo has repurposed its platform for COVID-19 relief efforts this year, focusing on projects that have spanned COVID-19 therapeutics, vaccines, and diagnostics, including therapeutic antibody discovery and optimization in partnership with Totient, and development of novel vaccine platforms with Synlogic. It has also partnered with several vaccine developers to optimize manufacturing, enabling production of many more doses with the same resources. Notably, Ginkgo partnered with Moderna to optimize the processes used in its nucleic acid vaccine manufacturing.
"Your email inbox shouldn't have more virus protection than you do," said Jason Kelly, CEO and co-founder of Ginkgo Bioworks. "Biosecurity and public health tools are essential to end this pandemic and mitigate the threat of future pandemics. We're grateful for this investment from DFC for helping expand the infrastructure for biosecurity."
In May, Ginkgo launched Concentric by Ginkgo, a set of products focused on large-scale SARS-CoV-2 testing. With non-profit partners, Ginkgo has donated testing pilot programs to thousands of teachers and staff at K-12 schools in the Boston region, and most recently, secured access to and began efforts to deploy millions of SARS-CoV-2 rapid antigen tests through partnerships with SD Biosensor and Access Bio. Last week, Ginkgo announced that it is funding the expansion of Access Bio's New Jersey facility for manufacturing of rapid antigen diagnostics. Low cost, massively scalable antigen and pooled molecular tests are powerful tools in a national testing plan, as recently recommended by Dr. Anthony Fauci: "Surveillance testing. Literally flooding the system with tests."
"Whenever America needs to be defended, Massachusetts answers. In the fight against COVID-19, we've pioneered vaccines and widespread surveillance testing. The biosecurity infrastructure Ginkgo is building with the support of the federal government will not just help end this pandemic but make sure this never happens again," Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) said.
Through investment in Ginkgo Bioworks, this DFC loan will directly support rapid vaccine discovery, development, and manufacturing to accelerate an end to the current COVID-19 pandemic and to help prevent future pandemic threats. Ginkgo Bioworks is applying its platform to optimize manufacturing of critical raw materials required for production of nucleic acid vaccines against COVID-19. This type of vaccine has emerged as an exciting new modality given its rapid development timelines and emerging data indicating high efficacy. However, nucleic acid vaccines require a different manufacturing process, have a highly specialized supply chain, and have never been produced at the scale required to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Ginkgo's work to date has created processes that can dramatically increase the number of doses achievable with each manufacturing run.
"At the outset of the pandemic, we saw firsthand how vulnerable our medical supply chains were. It's critical we use every resource at our disposal to onshore key aspects of this industry and build out infrastructure that helps ensure this never happens again," said Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI). "Today's announcement is a step in that direction and will not only modernize our economy, but strengthen our national security for years to come."
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