First of three pandemic manufacturing sites could be ready by 2016

A new GAO report revealed that Novartis' Holly Springs, N.C., vaccine manufacturing site, one of three backed by U.S. authorities to be used in the event of a pandemic, could be the first to go online.

The GAO report says that the site is on track to finish construction, acquire a flu pandemic vaccine candidate and validate its vaccine surgery capacity with the FDA by 2016. The site would be fully operational by 2017, according to Fierce Vaccines.

The U.S. government has given approximately $500 million to Novartis to support construction of the site.

GlaxoSmithKline and Texas A&M are building a similar site in Texas, expected to be online by 2017, while Emergent BioSolutions is constructing a site in Maryland that is expected to be up and running by 2020, Fierce Vaccines reports.

When all three manufacturing centers are complete, they are expected to be able to produce 50 million doses of vaccine each within four months of receiving a flu virus strain, with the first doses for the public available to HHS within 12 weeks.

Approximately $440 million in contracts were awarded in fiscal years 2012 and 2013 by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to establish the three Centers for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing. The three sites are tasked with producing medical countermeasures, including flu vaccines, using flexible manufacturing methods, according to Fierce Vaccines.