Tesla Inc is building mobile molecule printers to help make the possible COVID-19 vaccine which is being developed by CureVac in Germany, the electric automaker’s CEO, Elon Musk, tweeted on Wednesday.
CureVac, an unlisted German company, has stated it is developing portable, automated mRNA production units that it calls printers and which Musk referred to as “RNA microfactories”.
They are being designed to be shipped to remote areas, where they can churn out its vaccine candidate and other mRNA-based therapies depending on the recipe they put into the machine.
But for the quick pandemic use – should its vaccine candidate win market approval – it has production sites with regulatory approval in Germany with a capacity to provide hundreds of millions of doses.
The company is based in Tuebingen and has the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It is a pioneer of the so-called messenger RNA approach, which is also pursued by BioNTech and its partner Pfizer along with Moderna.
RNA molecules are single-stranded, and because of their recurring molecular pattern, they can be produced in a relatively simple biochemical process that does not require genetically modified living cells, which are required to produce most other biotech drugs.
CureVac is also constructing a new stationery site that could boost its output tenfold to billions of doses.
The “microfactories” would be constructed at Tesla Grohmann Automation in Germany, Musk stated in a Twitter thread on Wednesday.
Tesla bought the company which develops automated manufacturing systems for batteries and fuel cells in 2016 to expand its production.
CureVac has been collaborating with Tesla Grohmann to develop the mobile printer technology, a person knowledgeable with the matter said. Musk did not describe his plans further.