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

With supply contracts for 50 million COVID-19 vaccine doses in Japan and 40 million in South Korea, Moderna has already made a push into the Asian market. Now, it's laying out plans for a factory all its own in the region.

The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based drugmaker is in talks with the South Korean government to invest $200 million into a vaccine production plant in the country, Park Young-sun, a former government minister involved in the plans, told the Asia Business Daily, Reuters reports. Moderna is eager to push into the region, she added. 

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It's unclear when the facility might come online, or how many doses it could add to Moderna's production output, though the South Korean capital of Seoul has been pegged as the facility's likely home, Reuters said.  Moderna was not immediately available for comment. 

Even as Moderna's COVID-19 shot rolls out in countries around the world, the company has continued to bolster its supply chain. The company in late December tapped Sweden's Recipharm for formulation and fill-finish work at its facility in Monts, France. Elsewhere in Europe, the company has teamed up with Spain's Laboratorios Farmacéuticos Rovi for fill-finish work on "hundreds of millions" of doses of Moderna's mRNA-based vaccines. 

Meanwhile, the company's first pandemic manufacturing partner, Lonza, is cranking out doses of the company's vaccine at both U.S. and Swiss facilities, while Catalent agreed to tackle finishing duties for at least 100 million doses at its Bloomington, Indiana plant. 

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In Asia, where the company has pledged 50 million doses to Japan and another 40 million to South Korea, Moderna has already found Japanese manufacturing support by way of its 50-million-dose production deal with Takeda. 

Under that deal, Takeda is set to start importing and distributing Moderna's shot in the first half of 2021. It will also take the reins on local regulatory approvals, Takeda said. 

South Korea, meanwhile, clinched a deal for at least 40 million Moderna doses in late December. Deliveries should start arriving in the country in the second quarter, Moderna said at the time.