Moderna, Lonza tie up to ramp up Covid-19 vaccine development; could start production by July

Under the agreement, Lonza will manufacture up to a billion doses of the vaccine per year following the technology transfer from Moderna in June

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Biotechnology giant Moderna said on Friday that it could start manufacturing its yet-unconfirmed Covid-19 vaccine "as early as July". The comments were made by the company's CEO after Moderna announced a 10-year partnership with Swiss contract drugmaker Lonza to ramp up production of the experimental coronavirus vaccine.

The announcement comes at a time when drugmakers and pharmaceutical companies across the world are trying to develop a vaccine or treatment for the deadly coronavirus. This has seen most pharmaceutical companies halting clinical trials for all other diseases and going for clinical and human trials of their experimental Covid-19 vaccine. Currently, there is no proven treatment for coronavirus which has killed more than a 233,000 people.

Moderna hopeful about Covid-19 vaccine

Moderna YouTube Grab

Moderna's experimental Covod-19 vaccine mRNA-1273 is being tried in its early stage by the National Institutes of Health. Under the agreement, Lonza plans to manufacture up to a billion doses of the vaccine per year.

Moderna is expecting to begin the second-stage trial in the second quarter. However, the company is planning to start manufacturing the yet-unconfirmed vaccine by July following the technology transfer to Lonza in June. The initial batches of the vaccine will be manufactured in Lonza's US facility.

Moderna said that it is waiting for a green light from the authorities concerned to start the manufacturing process. "We are hoping with Lonza to start making product for the corona vaccine as early as July," the company's CEO Stephane Bancel told CNBC's 'Squawk Box'.

Moderna pushing for second-phase trial

COVID-19 vaccine trial (Representational picture)

Moderna's mRNA-1273 has been developed by its researchers and those from the National Institutes of Health and was the first candidadte to enter phase 1 human trial in March. The national Institutes of Health said that developing a candidate didn't take much time as the organizations were already partnered and researching on "related coronaviruses".

The virus uses synthetic messenger RNA to immunize against the virus. Such treatments have an advantage. These kind of treatments helpthe body in immunizing against a certain virus and requires less time to be developed and manufactured. However, the full results of Moderna's phase 1 trial haven't been released yet.

Modern, earlier this week, had said that it has already submitted an application to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requesting for a phase 2 trial of the potential vaccine. If everything falls in place, Moderna plans to start begin the phase 3 trial by 2020 fall.

There are currently around 89 vaccines for the coronavirus under development globally, according to the World Health Organization. Presently, there is no approved vaccine or drug for the treatment of the deadly coronavirus. Earlier this month, Moderna secured a $483 million funding from Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to ramp up development of its Covod-19 vaccine.

Related topics : Coronavirus