Medicago Cuts Jobs at Covid Vaccine Facility

    Photo: Miljan Živković

    Medicago is cutting 62 jobs at its manufacturing facility in Durham, North Carolina, USA, which played a key role in producing the company’s tobacco plant-based Covid-19 vaccine, reports the Triangle Business Journal.

    In a notice to the North Carolina Department of Commerce, the Canadian biopharmaceutical company said the layoffs are the result of Medicago “restructuring its workforce to align with its changing business needs.”

    Using tobacco plants, the company developed a Covid vaccine called Covifenz, which Canadian regulators approved earlier this year. The country’s government committed to purchasing 20 million doses of the vaccine with an option to purchase 56 million more.

    No other country has approved Covifenz, however. The World Health Organization, meanwhile, has been reluctant to grant the vaccine emergency approval due to Medicago’s ties with Philip Morris International, which owns about a third of the biopharmaceutical company.

    Headquartered in Quebec City, Medicago employs 600 people.

    The company built out its facility in Durham through a 2010 partnership with the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which included $21 million in funding from the federal agency. The facility features greenhouse space and an automated extraction and purification system.