Moderna Expands Asian Presence with Four New Subsidiaries

Moderna_Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Moderna continues to expand its global footprint. Days after plans for a potential manufacturing center in the United Kingdom were revealed, the company announced plans to expand in Asia with the opening of four new subsidiaries in Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong. 

Moderna has rapidly expanded its mRNA footprint across the globe. The company already has a presence in Japan and South Korea. Moderna also recently struck a deal to open a manufacturing facility in Australia. In its announcement, Moderna noted that the Asia-Pacific region is an integral part of its overall business strategy as it scales up the manufacturing and distribution of its COVID-19 vaccine, as well as future mRNA vaccines and therapeutics. 

Moderna Chief Executive Officer Stéphane Bancel said that with the addition of the four subsidiaries in Asia, Moderna is looking forward to finding new opportunities to leverage its mRNA platform to solve health challenges in Asia. Bancel noted that Asia bears the highest burden of infectious diseases, and with an aging population, the burden of non-communicable diseases is steadily increasing.  

In its announcement, Moderna did not provide information on how much of an investment it was making in the region to open these offices, nor did the company indicate information about staffing.  

Although Moderna is expanding its footprint in Asia, the company’s manufacturing presence is still lagging in that region. Moderna recently struck a deal with the Australian government to construct a manufacturing center there, but it will not be operational for some time. On Wednesday morning, the company announced a manufacturing agreement with Spain’s Laboratorios Farmacéuticos Rovi, S.A. that will boost its European manufacturing capabilities. 

In an interview with Nikkei Asia, Bancel said he hopes the company will be able to open vaccine manufacturing facilities in Asia.  

"There's a few more countries in Asia where I would love to set up manufacturing, so we can supply the people in those countries and neighboring countries from those Asia-based plants," Bancel told Nikkei Asia. "If we had factories in several countries, the world will be better prepared because we could scale and give supply faster." 

The company expects that its portfolio of prophylactic vaccines, as well as therapies for cardiovascular diseases, oncology and rare diseases will have a significant impact in Asia. Additionally, Moderna said there is an “unparalleled opportunity” to use its mRNA technology in order to maximize its potential effect on human health across the region. Moderna's broader pipeline currently includes 40 development programs, 25 of which are in clinical trials. 

"2021 was a year of impact for Moderna, and I am proud to see continued growth in 2022 as we expand our presence in Asia. After a decade of pioneering the development of our mRNA platform, we were ready to play a critical role in combating the COVID-19 pandemic globally,” Bancel said in a statement.  

As Moderna continues its expansion across the globe, the company is driven by four strategic pillars, including the development of first-in-class vaccines against latent diseases. Moderna already has candidates in several phases of clinical development, including vaccines against Epstein-Barr virus, human immunodeficiency virus and Cytomegalovirus.  

The company’s second strategic pillar will include the development of therapeutics based on mRNA-encoded proteins across oncology, cardiovascular, auto-immune disorders and rare genetic diseases. The third pillar will include the development of therapeutics based on mRNA-encoded gene-editing enzymes. 

The fourth strategic pillar will include the development of a pan-respiratory annual booster vaccine that will be continuously customized. Such a vaccine could cover multiple viruses, including COVID-19, flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Moderna stated that a pan-respiratory annual single booster vaccine is expected to create significant healthcare value due to increased convenience to recipients. It’s also expected to reduce vaccine administration cost.  

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