Swiss firm Lonza said Wednesday it will open a new production line for the drug substance in Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, making it possible to churn out hundreds of millions more jabs per year.
The new line will be set up at Lonza’s site in Geleen, Netherlands, and is expected to begin production by the end of the year, the Swiss company, a major supplier to the pharmaceutical industry, said in a statement.
The move marks an expansion of a deal Lonza signed with Moderna in May last year to help produce the US vaccine-maker’s jab, which is based on pioneering mRNA technology.
Messenger RNA genetic technology trains the body to reproduce spike proteins similar to that found on the coronavirus. When exposed to the real virus later, the body recognises the spike proteins and is able to fight them off.
Lonza, which makes the drug substances used in manufacturing the Moderna vaccines, said the new production line would, once it is at full capacity, enable the production of an additional 300 million doses per year.
The Swiss company initially set up three production lines at its factory in the Swiss town of Visp, and one at its site in Portsmouth in the US state of New Hampshire.
Those production lines currently make 400 million doses per year.
Faced with urgent calls to boost production of COVID vaccines to meet the towering global demand, Lonza and Moderna had already decided last April to expand their original agreement with three additional production lines at its Visp site.
Those are expected to begin production of an additional 300 million annual doses in early 2022.