Moderna lays off parts of manufacturing team after resizing COVID footprint

Moderna is laying off employees within its manufacturing unit, with the move tied to a resizing of its COVID production work. 

A spokesperson confirmed the layoffs in a statement to Fierce on Friday, saying previously announced decisions to reduce COVID-related manufacturing expenditures resulted in job cuts.

“We thank these individuals for their contributions to Moderna and to patients worldwide,” the spokesperson said. 

The Moderna rep declined to say how many employees would be affected. During last year's third quarter, the company "embarked on a strategic initiative aimed at optimizing the cost structure of its COVID-19 business, with an emphasis on resizing its manufacturing cost structure," according to an earnings release from last month.

“While we have resized our manufacturing footprint in 2023, we will continue to find ongoing cost improvements in manufacturing,” CEO Stéphane Bancel said on an earnings call in February. 

As Moderna's COVID investments shrink, other parts of its production footprint are growing, namely at a recently bought facility in Marlborough, Massachusetts, that will help produce Moderna’s Merck-partnered individualized neoantigen therapy (INT).

All told, the Flagship-founded company plans to spend north of $300 million on the new facility, growing its square footage by more than 40%, from 140,000 to 200,000.  

Moderna grew its headcount by 44% in 2023, from 3,900 to 5,600, according to the company’s last two annual reports. The growth included adding employees to two additional countries, with a presence now in 19 across the globe. The total headcount gains are slightly less than the 2,000 new employees that execs aspired to hire when last year began. 

Emphasis on the new INT production facility comes amid Moderna’s broader pivot away from being just a COVID vaccine maker to a larger pharmaceutical company with multiple approved products across therapeutic areas. The next two years will be critical in realizing that goal, beginning in May when the FDA is expected to decide on Moderna’s RSV candidate.

The company’s shares dived last month after durability data for the vaccine suggested it didn’t quite have the stamina of GSK’s option. But better-than-expected earnings, plus near-term developments in RSV and cytomegalovirus, shot the stock back up.