Moderna to Double US Vacccine Production Site

06.05.2021 - US Covid-19 vaccine manufacturer Moderna said it is planning to make major renovations at its Norwood, Massachusetts, mRNA production site with the aim of more than doubling its size by late 2021 or early 2022. The plans call for transforming the facility from a production and lab space to an industrial technology center by acquiring another building located on the same campus.

The US biotech announced late last week that it now expects to produce 800 million to 1 billion doses of its vaccine this year, with the goal of producing 3 billion doses next year. Along with increasing vaccine output, the expansion is also designed to enhance the company’s technical development capacity and preclinical production capability toward producing thousands of preclinical samples per month for research and development.

Extending the space will also boost the vaccine maker’s technical capabilities, such as expansion of shelf-life stability and new pharmaceutical delivery forms including prefilled syringes and lyophilized products. In addition to the Covid vaccine now being administered worldwide, Moderna is also working on a number of other vaccine types, including adapted Covid versions, as well as drugs other than vaccines based on the mRNA platform.

The company’s US expansion goes hand in hand with plans announced by Moderna’s principal European partner, Lonza. The Swiss CDMO said late last month it was installing three new production lines and doubling existing drug substance production at its Visp, Switzerland, site, building on a 10-year pact signed with Moderna last year. 

COVAX gets shot in the arm from Moderna, France and Sweden

Moderna has said it intends to supply 34 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine to the global COVAX program this year. The announcement followed pledges by France and more recently Sweden to donate doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine to the organization that provides vaccines to poor countries. The advance purchase order agreed after Moderna’s shot was approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) calls for supply of 500 million doses altogether. However, according to the GAVI vaccine alliance, deliveries will only begin in the fourth quarter.

Sweden’s donation plans follow France’s announcement last month that it would give 500,000 doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine to Covax by June, with the first supplies going to Africa. The Scandinavian country paused the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in March after reports of rare, but serious blood clots. It later resumed using it but only for people aged 65 or older. It is still unclear what will happen to Denmark’s AstraZeneca doses now that the country has decided not to use them.

All of the donations will help to expand the COVAX program’s current pipeline and potentially add variant-adapted vaccines in future. GAVI runs the vaccine sharing facility together with the WHO. The program hopes to have 2 billion doses available by the end of 2021.

Author: Dede Williams, Freelance Journalist