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Moderna to Open Four Asia Subsidiaries to Expand Reach for mRNA Portfolio

publication date: Feb 16, 2022
author/source: Richard Daverman, PhD

Based on sales of its COVID-19 mRNA vaccine, Moderna announced plans to open subsidiaries in four Asian countries -- Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Malaysia. Although mainland China was not included in the list, the company's CEO, Stéphane Bancel, told the South China Morning Post that Moderna will hire about 1,000 people for the Hong Kong office, which will be in charge of forming Asia partnerships for new vaccines. Moderna, which is headquartered in Cambridge, MA, also announced ambitious plans for developing new mRNA vaccines to expand its offerings post-COVID.

In the company's press release, Moderna said it expects the Asia-Pacific region will become an “integral part” of its business. It certainly is a big change for the company, which currently has only 24 employees in South Korea, Japan and Australia.

So far, the company has announced plans to build a mRNA vaccine manufacturing facility in Victoria, Australia capable of turning out 100 million doses per year. And it signed an agreement with South Korea to explore building a manufacturing plant there.

“There’s a few more countries in Asia where I would love to set up manufacturing, so we can supply the people in those countries and neighboring countries from those Asia-based plants,” CEO Bancel told Nikkei. “If we had factories in several countries, the world will be better prepared because we could scale and give supply faster.”

Bancel continued, "2021 was a year of impact for Moderna, and I am proud to see continued growth in 2022 as we expand our presence in Asia. After a decade of pioneering the development of our mRNA platform, we were ready to play a critical role in combating the COVID-19 pandemic globally."

Moderna pointed out that Asia has the highest burden of infectious diseases in the world, while the incidence of non-communicable diseases is increasing as the population ages.

Moderna's growing portfolio in prophylactic vaccines, cardiovascular diseases, oncology, and rare diseases is based on its mRNA technology. The company's pipeline currently consists of 40 development programs, including 25 in clinical trials.

Although Moderna currently is active in only twelve markets globally, more than 70 markets, including Canada, Japan, the European Union, the UK, and Israel,  have approved its COVID-19 vaccine. In 2021, 807 million doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine were shipped globally, with approximately 25% of them shipped to low- and middle-income markets.

Moderna also laid out its plans for future products built around four strategic pillars:

  • Developing a pan-respiratory annual booster vaccine and continuously customizing it. A pan-respiratory annual single booster vaccine covering multiple viruses, such as COVID-19, Flu, and Respiratory Syncytial Virus, would create value for the healthcare system through compliance, convenience to the customer and reduction in vaccine administration cost
  • Developing first-in-class vaccines against latent viruses for which there are no approved vaccines today. Latent viruses infect the body, lay dormant, and do not replicate but possess the capacity to activate, causing disease. In addition, new emerging evidence highlights that latent viral infections may have yet unknown negative effects. Moderna has clinical candidates in development for several latent viruses, including Epstein-Barr Virus (Phase 1), human immunodeficiency virus (Phase 1), and Cytomegalovirus (Phase 3)
  • Developing therapeutics based on mRNA-encoded proteins across oncology, cardiovascular, auto-immune disorders, and rare genetic diseases
  • Developing therapeutics based on mRNA-encoded gene-editing enzymes

According to Moderna, its mRNA platform builds on advances in basic and applied mRNA science, delivery technology and manufacturing. It has developed therapeutics and vaccines for infectious diseases, immuno-oncology, rare diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and auto-immune diseases.

See our other articles on Moderna.

Disclosure: none.




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