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Moderna to Build mRNA Vaccine Plant in Canada

Syringes

(Pikist)

10 Aug. 2021. The biotechnology company Moderna Inc. agreed to build a manufacturing plant for its messenger RNA or mRNA vaccines in Canada. The agreement with the Canadian government aims to provide access to the Cambridge, Mass. company’s mRNA technology to rapidly produce vaccines for Covid-19 and other respiratory viral diseases.

Moderna develops vaccines and therapies against infectious diseases with a technology that synthesizes messenger RNA, a nucleic acid based on the genetic code from DNA, and used by cells to produce amino acids in proteins for cellular functions. Moderna manipulates the coding region in the mRNA chemistry to provide instructions for cells to produce proteins with specific medicinal properties. For protective vaccines, Moderna delivers mRNA with instructions for cells to produce proteins with enough resemblance to viruses to generate an immune response, but are still safe for the recipient.

The company’s Covid-19 vaccine has become one of the key elements for health authorities worldwide to combat the pandemic. The vaccine, developed with National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases or NIAID, received emergency authorization from the the Food and Drug Administration for adults age 18 and over in December 2020. Since then health agencies in Canada, Israel, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Singapore, Qatar, and Taiwan also authorized the vaccine. World Health Organization added its emergency use listing on 30 Apr.

Agreement covers vaccines still being developed

Moderna agreed, through a memorandum of understanding with the government, to build a state-of-the-art mRNA vaccine manufacturing facility in Canada. Under the agreement, the company is collaborating with the Canadian government to provide vaccines to protect against Covid-19 infections, as well as other respiratory viruses, including influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, vaccines still in development. The plant is also expected to have a rapid-response capability, activated to produce urgently needed vaccines on demand. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Moderna is rapidly expanding its international manufacturing and distribution networks in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. As reported by Science & Enterprise in May, the company signed manufacturing and distribution agreements with South Korea and Japan for its Covid-19 vaccine, and agreed to provide 500 million vaccine doses to the Covax facility, an international project distributing vaccines to low-income countries.

Moderna says the new agreement with Canada may serve as a template for manufacturing its vaccines in other regions, and is in discussions with other countries. “While we are still responding to this pandemic,” says Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel in a company statement, “we also want to ensure we and society learn from it. As Moderna expands internationally, we are delighted to bring mRNA manufacturing to Canada. We believe that this innovative business model will have global impact and implications.”

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