In tandem with the UK government, the new facility is expected to crank out mRNA shots for diseases like COVID-19, seasonal flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), plus “potential other vaccines,” Moderna said in its release.
Part and parcel of the facility’s design is its ability to be activated “on an urgent basis,” Moderna said. This would theoretically allow the company to offer the UK direct access to “rapid” pandemic countermeasures, Moderna explained.
The move falls under the UK’s “100 Days Mission,” which aims to blunt the force of future pandemics. Construction is expected to start as early as this year, with the first vaccines due to be produced in 2025.
While there is no confirmation on the size, cost or even the location of the new upcoming facility, the Financial Times said the facility could be located anywhere between London, Oxford and Cambridge, dubbed the “Golden Triangle.”
In its latest release, however, Moderna didn’t specify where in the UK it plans to set up the mRNA Innovation and Technology Center.
The Financial Times said the site will manufacture up to 250 million doses per year, including some for export, and the deal, which will last 10 years, will be finalized this summer and be worth 1 billion pounds (US$1.2 billion).
“We are committed to global public health, and as we continue to expand internationally, we are pleased to bring local mRNA manufacturing to the UK. We look forward to establishing our research and development activities and capabilities in the country,” said Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel.
The UK has been anxious to seek support from the big pharma players as it looks to carve out a special place for the Golden Triangle.
Research and Development also runs deep in the UK as it does offer some key attractions to drug and vaccine developers, as well as a large and notable scientific community.
However, the UK is not the only country that Moderna is looking to set up shop for vaccine manufacturing.
However, these developments will be worth keeping an eye on as Switzerland just threw out more than 600,000 doses of Moderna’s Spikevax last month after they expired.
In the same space, GSK is rolling out its latest smart biologics’ tech facility at Q block, in the UK too. The plant is fully automated and leverages digitalization to streamline the manufacturing process.
This in turn should allow GSK to hasten the launch of new medicines while cutting down on waste.