Moderna plots 155 new hires in 2021 amid major mRNA vaccine manufacturing expansion

With a major COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing boost underway, Moderna is plotting new hires to fill its expanded production and lab space.

The mRNA specialist has promised to hire at least 155 new employees for manufacturing positions at its Norwood, Massachusetts, site in 2021 and to retain the additional headcount through 2025, the company said Friday.

The new commitment came with a $2.33 million tax incentive from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. It’s also the result of a newly launched expansion project that aims to more than double the Moderna facility’s space.

Moderna didn’t immediately reply to an inquiry for clarification as to how many of the 155 jobs have already been filled.

Moderna has enjoyed booming growth thanks to the success of its COVID-19 vaccine. Before the pandemic, the company employed 830 staffers. The number jumped to about 1,300 by the end of 2020 and further rose to 1,500 as of March 31. Of all the new jobs added last year, 650 are based at the Norwood manufacturing facility, according to the company.

RELATED: Moderna plans major expansion at Massachusetts manufacturing site to help boost COVID-19 vaccine supply

The vaccine also catapulted Moderna from a clinical-stage biotech to a commercial-stage drugmaker with $803 million in 2020 revenues. Much larger sales figures lie ahead: In May, Moderna projected more than $19 billion in 2021 sales thanks to the vaccine supply deals it had then inked worldwide.

The rising demand has led Moderna to start renovating its Norwood site, which came online in 2018 with 150 workers. Through an expansion plan unveiled in May, the company is increasing its production and lab space there to about 650,000 square feet from about 300,000 square feet. The goal is to ramp up production of the COVID-19 vaccine at the site by 50% in late 2021 and early 2022.

RELATED: Moderna sets sights on $200M vaccine factory in Seoul: report

Looking beyond the U.S., Moderna’s reportedly in talks with the South Korean government to invest $200 million into a vaccine production plant in the country, a former government minister involved in the plans, told the Asia Business Daily in February.

All told, Moderna expects to have global capacity of up to 3 billion doses of its COVID-19 vaccine in 2022 from its in-house and partnered manufacturing facilities. That’s expected to be up from a projection of between 800 million to 1 billion doses in 2021.

Besides Moderna, 27 other life sciences companies have also received tax incentives from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center by pledging local jobs. These include $1.95 million for Alnylam Pharmaceuticals for adding 130 jobs in Norton and Cambridge, among others.