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Moderna doubling COVID-19 vaccine production

Moderna doubling COVID-19 vaccine production
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Moderna on Thursday announced plans to double COVID-19 vaccine production to 3 billion doses from 1.4 billion.

The forecast is an increase from late February, when Moderna predicted it could supply up to 1.4 billion doses of its vaccine in 2022. 

Moderna said in a statement that it plans to increase investments at its manufacturing facilities beginning this year.

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The company plans to double vaccine substance production at its U.S. facilities and at a Switzerland-based facility where its partner, Lonza, is helping with manufacturing for international supply.

The company also plans to double its formulation and drug substance manufacturing at a facility in Spain operated by Rovi.

For 2021, the company plans on manufacturing between 800 million and 1 billion doses, up from the 600 million to 700 million doses it forecasted in February.

Moderna said the exact number of doses will depend on formulations needed for the vaccine at its full-dose level and lower doses of possible booster shots for COVID-19 variants and pediatric vaccines, if they are authorized.

Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said earlier this month that the company could provide its booster shots by the fall. The National Institutes of Health is currently testing booster shots against the coronavirus strain first discovered in South Africa.

The increase comes as demand for mRNA-based vaccines like Moderna’s and another from Pfizer and BioNTech increases amid public trust issues in vaccines from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson over manufacturing issues and links to severe blood clotting. A temporary pause in the administration of Johnson & Johnson vaccines has been lifted, and AstraZeneca's vaccine has not been authorized for emergency use in the U.S.

Thus far, more than 102 million doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the U.S., according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Forty million people have been fully inoculated with the two-dose shot.

Also on Thursday, Moderna said the current formulation of its vaccine can support a 3-month refrigerated shelf life, or storage of between 2 to 8 degrees Celsius, for easier distribution. This is an increase from its approved storage of up to 1 month at those temperatures.