Moderna CEO Says He Wants to Have mRNA Vaccine Factory on Every Continent

Moderna CEO Says He Wants to Have mRNA Vaccine Factory on Every Continent
Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel speaks at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, on May 23, 2022. (Fabrice Coffrini/Getty Images)
Bill Pan

Moderna chief executive Stephane Bancel said he wants to take his company’s mRNA vaccine manufacturing to every continent in the world, Reuters reported.

“We’re talking to a couple more countries, because I would really like on every continent to have mRNA capacity,” Bancel said during a panel at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF), in Davos, Switzerland.

Moderna, which has rapidly advanced from a little-known Massachusetts-based clinical stage company to a dominant player in the global vaccine market over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, is planning overseas expansions of its mRNA vaccine-making capacity.

In August 2021, Moderna signed a memorandum of understanding with the Canadian government to build a “state-of-the-art messenger RNA” vaccine-manufacturing facility. The goal, according to the company, is to make sure Canada can activate the site and secure “direct access to rapid pandemic response capabilities” in the event of a “future pandemic.”

A similar agreement was signed in March 2022 between Moderna and the government of Australia. As part of the partnership, Moderna will build vaccine factories in Melbourne and Victoria to provide Australians with a portfolio of mRNA vaccines against COVID-19, seasonal influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and other potential respiratory viruses.

In Africa, Moderna tapped Kenya as the country to host its mRNA vaccine site. In March 2022, Moderna announced that it’s investing up to $500 million to produce in Kenya up to 500 million doses each year for the entire continent.

Moderna also eyed on the United Kingdom as the base of its European expansion. A June 2022 agreement with the British government allows Moderna to established an “mRNA Innovation and Technology Center” in the country.

The most recent move in Moderna’s effort to bring mRNA vaccine production out of Massachusetts came in September 2022, when Bancel traveled to Japan to negotiate a long-term vaccine deal with the Japanese government. He told Japanese newspaper Nikkei that COVID-19 will “never completely disappear” and that COVID vaccines will ultimately become annual like flu shots.

Bancel’s Japanese trip came a year after after foreign matter was discovered in vials of its COVID-19 vaccine, forcing Takeda, a Japanese pharmaceutical giant and Modern’s vaccine distributor in Japan, to suspend the use of more than 1.6 million doses.

“It’s a substance that reacts to magnets … It could be metal,” a Japanese health official reportedly said, according to Nikkei.

Bancel is among more than 2,600 government, business, and academic elites attending the WEF meeting, which runs Jan. 16–20. The theme of the 2023 summit is “Cooperation in a Fragmented World.”

According to the U.S. embassy to Switzerland, the U.S. delegation will feature John Kerry, the U.S. special presidential envoy for climate, along with National Intelligence director Avril Haines, FBI director Christopher Wray, and U.S. Trade representative Katherine Tai.