CHINA —Moderna, the renowned vaccine developer, has made a significant stride by signing a transformative deal to produce mRNA medicines within China.

This partnership comes in the wake of challenges faced by US and European Covid-19 drugmakers in accessing the Chinese market without a local collaborator.

Moderna’s agreement focuses on manufacturing medicines exclusively for the Chinese population, with no intention of exporting the products.

In a groundbreaking move, Moderna plans to manufacture mRNA medicines within China to address the healthcare needs of the Chinese people.

While specific investment details remain undisclosed, reports suggest that Moderna’s investment in China could reach as high as US$1 billion. Nonetheless, the company has refrained from commenting on these reports.

Despite prevailing geopolitical tensions, both US and European biopharma companies have expressed their interest in developing drugs for the Chinese market.

However, China has consistently insisted on utilizing local distributors for Covid-19 vaccines and medicines.

Moderna’s decision to expand its presence in mainland China marks a significant departure from this approach.

Revenue Realities: Moderna’s Growth Challenges:

Moderna’s foray into China comes at a crucial time, as the company faces a substantial slowdown in revenue growth due to diminishing global demand for its COVID-19 vaccine, which remains its sole approved product.

The company has projected a possible net loss for 2023, anticipating a transitional year until the experimental vaccines targeting respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza gain regulatory approval and contribute to sales.

Complexities of China’s vaccine market

Moderna, like its peers, has encountered challenges in accessing China’s vaccine market. China has been steadfast in its preference for domestically-produced COVID-19 vaccines for its population.

However, Moderna’s recent partnership indicates a significant shift in this stance, signaling new avenues for collaboration.

Moderna’s experiences align with those of other biopharma companies, such as Pfizer, which faced hurdles in introducing Paxlovid into the Chinese market.

Pfizer, for instance, joined forces with Chinese drugmaker CSPC Pharmaceutical Group to distribute a local brand of its antiviral treatment.

Merck’s antiviral molnupiravir is distributed through Sinopharm, while BioNTech partnered with Fosun Pharmaceutical Group for the distribution of its Covid-19 vaccine.

Additionally, China granted approval for a domestically-developed mRNA Covid-19 vaccine from CSPC.

Modern acknowledges the interconnectedness of health challenges worldwide, recognizing that threats in one region can impact the entire globe.

The company’s statement emphasizes its dedication to creating a significant impact on people’s lives through mRNA medicines.

It underscores the importance of collaborative efforts to address healthcare challenges and improve global well-being.

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