Moderna Global Strategy Sets Sights on 15 Priority Pathogens

Moderna_Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Fueled by the success of its COVID-19 vaccine, Moderna is launching a global public health strategy that will advance the development of mRNA vaccines against various infectious diseases. The company set its sights on developing 15 vaccine programs that target "priority pathogens that protect global health."

On Monday, Moderna announced its initiative that promises to advance those 15 programs into the clinic by 2025. Additionally, the company is launching a new program dubbed mRNA Access that will allow researchers to use the company's technology to explore the development of new vaccines against emerging pathogens or neglected infectious diseases. The mRNA Access program will enable researchers from its global partners to access its preclinical manufacturing capabilities and research and development expertise to explore the potential of developing an mRNA-based solution to public health threats.

As research organizations from low and middle-income countries access its mRNA technology to advance programs under their watch, Moderna said it pledges not to enforce its patent protections for the Gavi COVAX AMC.

The pharmaceutical company said its strategy is in response to calls from the World Health Organization and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations to develop vaccines against priority pathogens that threaten public health. In addition to COVID-19, the Cambridge, Mass.-based company is also developing mRNA vaccines against HIV, Nipah and Zika. The company said other pathogens it intends to target will be advanced by 2025. Its mRNA pipeline consists of 28 vaccine programs, including vaccines against respiratory viruses, vaccines against latent viruses and vaccines against threats to global public health.

The company said its mRNA platform's speed, scale, and flexibility is well-suited for rapid response to the infectious diseases of increasing concern.

Moderna chief executive officer Stéphane Bancel pointed to the devastating impact of COVID-19, including the loss of more than 6 million people and the economic toll. Even as the pandemic appears to be on the wane, Bancel said the world must not assume that COVID-19 will be the last pandemic to impact global health.

"We are dedicated to pursuing innovative vaccine solutions to address infectious diseases that pose the greatest risk to public health through collaborative research and development," Bancel said in a statement. "Since our beginning, we have focused on developing a global health vaccine program, and today, we are renewing that focus by expanding our work to develop vaccines against priority pathogens that threaten global health and by launching our new mRNA Access program to create a community of global scientists to access our mRNA vaccine technology from anywhere in the world."

Bancel said the company is committed to bringing the "full force" of its mRNA platform against infectious diseases that are concerning to public health officials. Over the years, the company wants to work with global leaders to develop solutions and prevent future pandemics.

Moderna has taken the lead on this pledge and entered into a memorandum of understanding with the government of the Republic of Kenya to establish an mRNA-manufacturing facility. The state-of-the-art site will be tasked with producing up to 500 million doses of vaccines each year at the 50 µg dose level. In its announcement, Moderna said it will invest up to $500 million into the new site, which is expected to include drug substance manufacturing and have the opportunity for fill/finish and packaging capabilities.

"We believe that this step will become one of many on a journey to ensure sustainable access to transformative mRNA innovation on the African continent and positively impact public health," Bancel said.

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