By Barbara Kollmeyer
Amid global criticism over a lack of vaccine availabilty in developing nations, Moderna on Thursday announced it will build a "state-of-the-art" mRNA facility in Africa, aimed at producing 500 million doses of vaccines a year.
The biotechnology company (MRNA)responsible for messenger RNA therapeutics and vaccines that have been at the forefront of the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, said it will invest up to $500 million in a new facility. The site and country selection process is expected to begin soon, and the facility would handle drug substance manufacturing, and potentially fill/finish and packaging capbilities, the company said.
"While we are still working to increase capacity in our current network to deliver vaccines for the ongoing pandemic in 2022, we believe it is important to invest in the future," said Stephane Bancel, Moderna's chief executive officer, in a statement. "We expect to manufacture our COVID-19 vaccine as well as additional products within our mRNA vaccine portfolio at this facility."
Moderna's pipeline includes 20 candidates including vaccines against respiratory viruses, vaccines against latent viruses and vaccines against threats to global public health.
The company has provided more than 500 million doses of its COVID vaccine to date, but Africa remains one of the least vaccinated continents in the world. According to The New York Times vaccine tracker, in many African countries, less than 1% of the population is fully vaccinated.
The World Health Organization and other global aid groups have been highly critical of the slow pace of global vaccinations and lack of shots in poorer nations, versus wealthier, where booster shots are now starting to roll out.
Moderna shares have skyrocketed 189% this year, compared to a 13% rise for the Nasdaq Composite .
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
October 07, 2021 02:44 ET (06:44 GMT)
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