Moderna lays plans for $500m African mRNA plant

Details remain under wraps, but the $500 million investment will lead to Moderna’s first biomanufacturing facility outside of North America.

Moderna, which sprang to the forefront of biopharma on the back of the success of its COVID-19 vaccine, announced yesterday it will invest up to $500 million into a facility on the African continent to support production of its messenger RNA portfolio.

While the exact location (Africa is a big place!) has not yet been decided, a spokesperson for the firm told us “the goal of this facility is to have production capacity in the South to respond to the eruption of any new pandemic right from the start.”

Image: Stock Photo Secrets

The construction and validation of the site may be too late to serve the current COVID-19 pandemic, but Moderna says the plant will be ready for the firm’s pipeline of 20 mRNA vaccines and therapies in development.

“It’s important for Moderna to have a plant in Africa simply because its future treatment portfolio is focused on many respiratory viruses and tropical diseases that are most prevalent on the continent It will be primarily built and operated by local employees.”

The facility is expected to support up to 500 million doses of vaccines each year at the 50 µg dose level through both drug substance manufacturing and, potentially, fill/finish and packaging capabilities.

The facility will become Moderna’s third inhouse facility globally, and the first outside of North America.

The company’s Norwood, Massachusetts site offers plasmid, buffer prep, QC and sterile filling capacity, and is – along with a long list of CDMO partners – a major part of Moderna’s COVID-19 production strategy. Meanwhile, the firm has significant capital expenditure plans and in August signed a Memorandum of Understanding to construct an mRNA vaccine manufacturing facility in Canada.

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