Moderna, Inc., a biotechnology company pioneering messenger RNA (mRNA) therapeutics and vaccines, announced it is making new funding commitments to increase supply at its owned and partnered manufacturing facilities, which it expects will increase global 2022 capacity to up to 3 billion doses of its COVID-19 vaccine, depending upon the mix between the authorized Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine at the 100 μg dose level and potentially lower doses of the Company’s variant booster candidates and pediatric vaccines, if authorized. The Company will use its cash balance to fund these investments.
These investments allow for a doubling of drug substance manufacturing at Lonza’s Switzerland-based facility, a more than doubling of formulation, fill and finish and drug substance manufacturing at Rovi’s (BME: ROVI) Spain-based facility, as well as a 50% increase of drug substance at Moderna’s facilities in the U.S. When completed, the investments will also result in an increase in safety stock of raw materials and finished product used to deliver committed volumes. The Company will begin making investments at its owned and partnered manufacturing facilities in 2021, with increased production from these investments expected to ramp up in late 2021 and early 2022. Today, the Company also raised its 2021 manufacturing supply forecast to between 800 million to 1 billion doses.
The increases announced today are in addition to the recently announced increases in formulation, fill and finish in the U.S. with Catalent and Sanofi. In addition, Moderna is in advanced negotiations for other agreements.
“As we follow the rapid spread of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, we believe that there will continue to be significant need for our mRNA COVID-19 vaccine and our variant booster candidates into 2022 and 2023. We are hearing from governments that there is no technology that provides the high efficacy of mRNA vaccines and the speed necessary to adapt to variants, while allowing reliable scalability of manufacturing. Today we have announced that our investments in Europe, including Spain, France and Belgium, Switzerland, and the U.S. will allow us to deliver up to 3 billion doses in 2022, depending on the mix of product between primary series of vaccination and variant boosters,” said Stéphane Bancel, Chief Executive Officer of Moderna. “We thank our manufacturing partners for their work and their commitment. Together with our partners, Moderna is committed to continuously developing best-in-class variant boosters so we can end this pandemic as fast as possible.”
As shared at its Vaccines Day presentation on April 14, 2021, Moderna believes that this investment in increased supply is necessary due to an expected significant need for booster vaccinations in 2022 and beyond. The Company highlighted published studies predicting that waning immunity will impact vaccine efficacy within 12 months1, and published studies showing variants of concern have lower starting neutralizing antibody titers2 and may lead to breakthrough infections among those already infected or vaccinated3, compounding the potential need for variant boosters in the coming years.
Also discussed at Vaccines Day, Moderna further believes that mRNA is the best-positioned technology platform to meet the global need for ongoing vaccinations against SARS-CoV-2. The Company’s belief is based on the observations that mRNA vaccines have the highest published efficacy among authorized vaccines; the demonstrated ability of mRNA platforms to respond rapidly to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, including variants of concern; and the capability for mRNA technology to produce multi-valent vaccines. Moderna announced earlier this year that it is already testing SARS-CoV-2 variant vaccine and multivalent vaccine boosters in humans.
As Moderna observes results from its ongoing variants clinical trials and more fully develops its booster product strategy, it will be in a position to better estimate supply ranges for 2022, which will be based, in significant part, on product mix across single-dose boosters, primary (two-dose) vaccination series for adults, and primary (two-dose) series for the pediatric population, which may be at lower dose levels.
Moderna also announced today that ongoing development data related to the current formulation of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine (mRNA-1273) could support a 3-month refrigerated (2-8°C) shelf life for the vaccine in alternative formats to facilitate easier distribution to doctor’s offices and other smaller settings if authorized. Currently, the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine is approved for storage up to 1 month at refrigerated temperatures (2-8°C) and up to 7 months in a standard freezer (-20°C). The Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine is also the only authorized mRNA vaccine that does not require on-site dilution. The Company also announced that it is working on formulations of mRNA-1273 and a next generation vaccine (mRNA-1283) that it believes will extend refrigerated shelf life even further.
In 10 years since its inception, Moderna has transformed from a science research-stage company advancing programs in the field of messenger RNA (mRNA), to an enterprise with a diverse clinical portfolio of vaccines and therapeutics across six modalities, a broad intellectual property portfolio in areas including mRNA and lipid nanoparticle formulation, and an integrated manufacturing plant that allows for both clinical and commercial production at scale and at unprecedented speed. Moderna maintains alliances with a broad range of domestic and overseas government and commercial collaborators, which has allowed for the pursuit of both groundbreaking science and rapid scaling of manufacturing. Most recently, Moderna’s capabilities have come together to allow the authorized use of one of the earliest and most-effective vaccines against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Moderna’s mRNA platform builds on continuous advances in basic and applied mRNA science, delivery technology and manufacturing, and has allowed the development of therapeutics and vaccines for infectious diseases, immuno-oncology, rare diseases, cardiovascular diseases and auto-immune diseases. Today, 24 development programs are underway across these therapeutic areas, with 13 programs having entered the clinic. Moderna has been named a top biopharmaceutical employer by Science for the past six years.