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Saudi Arabia to build its first foot-and-mouth disease vaccine manufacturing plant in Riyadh

Tue, 2021-06-29 21:22

JEDDAH: Riyadh-based veterinary service provider MAS Company has signed a $60 million deal with Argentinian biotechnology company Biogénesis Bágo to build the Kingdom’s first foot-and-mouth (FMD) disease vaccine manufacturing plant.

The official ceremony took place on Monday and was endorsed by the Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture and hosted by Abdulrahman Al-Fadley, president of the Saudi Food and Drug Authority.

FMD is a contagious virus among livestock animals that can affect humans, and the new agreement aims to help Saudi Arabia become the first Arab country to be rid of the disease.

The new manufacturing facility will be built in three phases and is due to be completed within four years. Once it starts operation, it will create more than 400 job opportunities and will have the capacity to produce 200 million vaccines doses per year, Dr. Esteban Turic, CEO of Bioegénesis Bagó, told Arab News, adding that the agreement was part of its expansion plans.

“We are considering additional facilities for new animal vaccines needed in the country and wider region,” he said.

Biogénesis Bágo has more than 80 years of experience in biotechnical development and manufacturing and was selected to partner on the project after it successfully helped to eradicate FMD in Latin America and Asia. The company is a supplier for the FMD bank in the US and Canada.

“Biogénesis Bagó has current operations in KSA and the wider region. We are exporting from our main site in Argentina, from where we supply the US antigen and vaccine bank, seven countries in Latin America and four in Asia,” Turic said.

Nawaf Al-Ibrahim, CEO of MAS Company, stated that this project is part of a reforms program as part of Vision 2030 that aims to make the Kingdom self-sufficient and sustainable in food security.

As part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 economic diversification goals, Saudi Arabia is seeing heavy investment in its manufacturing sector. Authorities issued 307 new factory licenses during the first three months of this year, a 27.92 percent year-on-year increase. However, in terms of dollar investments, the amount surged by 428.6 percent to SR17.72 billion ($4.73 billion), according to figures from the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources.

The Kingdom’s pharmaceutical drugs market is a vital part of this growth. It was estimated to be worth $10.19 billion last year and is expected to grow at an annual rate of 7.3 percent over the next six years, according to a report by US-based research company Coherent Market Insights.

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