Moderna and Swiss contract drugmaker Lonza have today announced a deal aimed at manufacturing 1bn doses a year of a potential Covid-19 vaccine.
The experimental vaccine, called mRNA-1273, is being tested in an early-stage trial by the US National Institutes for Health. The US drug developer expects to start a mid-stage trial in the second quarter.
The announcement comes as drug developers across the world race to find a vaccine to prevent the spread of Covid-19, which has now claimed over 234,500 lives.
Under the 10-year strategic collaboration agreement, the companies will enable a 10-fold increase in the manufacturing of the drug if the trials are successful.
Technology transfer will begin in June and the first batches of the potential Covid-19 vaccine are set to be manufactured in Lonza US in July.
In a joint statement, the companies said: “Over time, the parties intend to establish additional production suites across Lonza’s worldwide facilities, ultimately allowing for the manufacture of material equivalent to up to 1bn doses of mRNA-1273 per year for use worldwide.
“The manufacturing facilities at Lonza complement Moderna’s ongoing US manufacturing efforts, which continue to ramp up to prepare for the further clinical development and commercialization of mRNA-1273.”
And Lonza CEO Albert Baehny added: “The current pandemic illustrates the need to combine the best science with resilient supply chains that can scale.
“We are fully committed to leveraging our global network and experience in manufacturing technologies to support Moderna’s manufacture of mRNA-1273 as well as collaborating on future Moderna products.”
Shares of Massachusetts-based Moderna soared after a US government agency awarded the company $483m to accelerate its vaccine development.
Today’s agreement is one of many similar deals as drug companies prepare to mass produce a successful candidate for the world’s population.
On Thursday, pharmaceutical group AstraZeneca announced its partnership with Oxford University to manufacture and distribute a possible Covid-19 vaccine.
Astrazeneca, which is based in Cambridge, is aiming to produce 100m doses by the end of the year. It saw its share prices rise to a high of £83.22, giving the firm a market value of £109bn.