Moderna is in talks to open a UK factory. What there is to know.

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Above, vials of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine. Biotech currently only has manufacturing facilities in the United States

Eugene Hoshiko/POOL/AFP via Getty Images


Modern

plans to open a messenger RNA manufacturing facility in the UK, according to a report released over the weekend.

According to the Financial Times, Moderna (ticker: MRNA) is in talks with the UK government to build a manufacturing facility in the country and conduct clinical trials with the National Health Service. Last week, Health Secretary Sajid Javid met with Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel in Boston.

Moderna did not comment on the FT story and did not respond to a request for comment from Barons.

While Moderna (ticker: MRNA) has partnered with contract manufacturers including


Lonza Group

(LZAGY), the company currently has manufacturing facilities only in the United States

Last year, it announced plans to open manufacturing plants in Australia and Canada, and at an unspecified location in Africa.

Moderna shares are down 36.5% this year and 12.2% in the past 12 months. The stock was down 2.1% in premarket trading on Monday, after closing Friday at $161.32.

Barrons wrote last month that Moderna faces a challenge as the vaccine market returns to normal after the Covid-19 pandemic wanes. Other vaccine manufacturers, including


Sanofi

(SNY) and


GlaxoSmithKline

(GSK), operate on a much larger scale than Moderna, with massive international footprints and huge numbers of employees.

Moderna, despite the huge revenue generated by its Covid-19 vaccine, remains a relative start-up. The company will have to use the war chest generated by the vaccine to expand rapidly, Barrons wrote, to stay competitive.

The company’s steady expansion in its global manufacturing footprint is part of this scaling. At investor conferences in recent months, Bancel said her company intended to use the factories to manufacture country-specific versions of the combination respiratory virus vaccine it says it is developing, which would provide protection. against the flu, Covid-19 and possibly other illnesses.

“We are literally building factories in countries with multi-year contract agreements for respiratory vaccines, where we can modify the variant that the country is interested in. It’s going to be important for flu, for corona, for other things where we can literally talk to our only client, the Minister of Health, so okay what do you want in a vaccine and what components do you want and so on sequel,” Bancel told a health care conference hosted by Goldman Sachs in January.

In late January, the Food and Drug Administration approved Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine, just over a year after it first received emergency use authorization.

Write to Josh Nathan-Kazis at [email protected]

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