DURHAM – Merck’s Durham vaccine production facility will be a new piece of the COVID-19 puzzle. The Maurice R. Hilleman Center for Vaccine Manufacturing in Treyburn will “produce bulk drug substance” for the shots, a spokesman said Wednesday.

It is one of two U.S. Merck facilities expected to participate in the project, designed to boost production to get more shots available sooner. President Biden announced the deal last week.

More than 800 people work at the Treyburn operation, and the company announced plans in January to hire an additional 100 for the 900,000-square-foot facility.

J&J-Merck vaccine collaboration is good news for NC and world, says Biotech Center exec

“The Durham plant plays a tremendous role in controlling the global spread of preventable diseases,” said Bill Bullock, the North Carolina Biotechnology Center’s senior vice president for economic development and statewide operations, in a recent interview. “It’s an impressive example of the strength and diversity of this state’s biotechnology and pharmaceutical sector.”

Merck also operates facilities in Wilson. Two expansions announced in 2019 will increase the 500-person workforce there by some 10%.