Moderna (Nasdaq:MRNA) announced four new initiatives within a global public health strategy for advancing mRNA vaccines.
Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Moderna plans to expand its global public health portfolio, accelerate research in an effort to advance additional vaccines, expand its patent pledge to never enforce COVID-19 patents in the Gavi COVAX AMC for 92 low- and middle-income countries and establish Kenya as the location for its mRNA manufacturing facility.
“Kenya was selected to be the site of our future manufacturing facility due to its existing strengths in the life sciences industry and international trade,” said a Moderna spokesperson. “In addition, the overall domestic regulatory environment positions Kenya as an efficient supply hub for the entire African continent. These advantages will be further enhanced through cooperation between Kenya and the U.S. Government on workforce training and capacity building. Together, these attributes made Kenya a natural and attractive choice for Moderna’s new facility, as we work to bring up to 500 million vaccine doses to the African continent each year.”
According to a news release, Moderna intends to expand its global public health portfolio to 15 vaccine programs targeting priority pathogens that threaten global health, advancing those vaccines into clinical studies by 2025. The company plans to prioritize development efforts against pathogens identified as persistent global health threats, including HIV, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria, neglected tropical diseases and the priority pathogens of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).
The company’s efforts to advance additional vaccines is backed by its new program, mRNA Access, which will offer researchers the use of Moderna’s mRNA technology to explore new vaccines against emerging or neglected infectious disease. The program invites researchers to accelerate vaccine development to the clinic and allow the exploration of novel vaccine designs.
Moderna also aims to ensure that those low- and middle-income countries no longer experience vaccine supply as a barrier to access. The company said it is willing to license its technology for COVID-19 vaccines to manufacturers in these countries on commercially reasonable terms.
The fourth and final initiative involves a memorandum of understanding — with the assistance of the U.S. government — with the Government of the Republic of Kenya to build a state-of-the-art mRNA facility in Africa with the aim of producing up to 500 million doses of vaccines each year at the 50 µg dose level. Moderna expects to invest up to $500 million in the facility, which it expects will include drug substance manufacturing with the opportunity for fill/finish and packaging capabilities.
“Despite the rapid development timelines of our COVID-19 vaccine, and substantial efforts undertaken to scale up our manufacturing, the human toll of COVID-19 has been devastating and we must not assume that the COVID-19 pandemic will be the last pandemic that will impact global health. We are dedicated to pursuing innovative vaccine solutions to address infectious diseases that pose the greatest risk to public health through collaborative research and development,” Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said in the release. “We are committed to bringing the full force of our mRNA vaccine platform to combat infectious diseases of public health concern and we look forward working with global partners to be part of the solution to prevent future pandemics and help millions of people around the world.”