Moderna in talks with Japanese govt to build vax plant in the country

JAPAN – According to a report from Nikkei Asia, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel is in talks with Japanese government to build a facility in Japan as well as centralize all processes, including manufacturing, into a single facility.

The plant would be an end-to-end producer of shots for COVID, flu, and any other vaccines the company might develop with its mRNA technology platform.

The construction of the facility is predicated on “having a contract for a set period of time for vaccine purchases with the government, he said.

Construction would start if the Japanese government signs a long-term deal, perhaps 10 years, during which it would be obligated to buy vaccines.

The company is negotiating with the government, and Bancel said Moderna aims to do “the same as we did in Canada, the UK, Australia, Spain, and elsewhere,” where it has signed similar contracts.

Bancel said the coronavirus will never completely disappear and that society must learn to coexist with it as it does influenza. He believes that ultimately annual vaccinations will offer enough protection for many people.

The vaccine developed by Moderna for the omicron variant has already been approved in Japan. The bivalent vaccine, which is effective for both the conventional and the BA.1 omicron variant, will be available soon.

Vaccines for BA.4 and BA.5, currently the most prevalent strains, are being prepared.

This week, Japan approved the Moderna and Pfizer bivalent boosters that defend against traditional COVID-19 and the omicron BA.1 subvariant.

Moderna has been active in Japan in the past, securing supply agreements with the government this year to supply more vaccines for the latter half of the year.

The company also transferred marketing authorization for its vaccine to Takeda for distribution support on the island.

Earlier this year, the company also chose Kenya as the country where it will establish manufacturing operations in Africa, with plans to invest US$500 million in a new vaccine manufacturing site in the country.

Moderna’s rivals are also expanding, as Pfizer is looking to pump millions into its vaccine R&D and manufacturing site in Pearl River, NY, while in June, BioNTech broke ground on a vaccine manufacturing site in Kigali, Rwanda.

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