Moderna to name Montreal for new biomanufacturing facility: report

Moderna is expected to announce Friday that it has chosen the Montreal area for a new biomanufacturing production facility that will include a research center.

The Massachusetts-based company, which has seen explosive growth in the wake of its mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, announced last year that it would build a Canadian facility along with other production expansion projects that include plans to build a $500 million plant in Africa.

The exact site of the Canadian mRNA vaccine facility, which is forecast to produce about 30 million doses a year and employ between 200 and 300 people when completed in 2024, hasn’t been determined, but Radio-Canada reported it will be in the greater Montreal region.

"You have to understand that these are decisions not for six months, one or two years, but it is a decision for 20, 30 or 40 years," Stéphane Bancel, Moderna’s chief excecutive, told the broadcaster. "It's really important that we do it in a place where we have the right level of talent, who will become employees of Moderna.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Quebec Premier François Legault are expected to attend the Friday announcement.

Moderna and the Canadian government signed a memorandum of understanding last August to build a “state-of-the-art messenger RNA” vaccine manufacturing facility.

Although details, including the expected cost of the project, have yet to be disclosed, the company said at the time the purpose was to provide Canada “direct access to rapid pandemic response capabilities," with its COVID vaccine. 

In a postpandemic mode, the company said it will use the new facility to provide Canadians with a portfolio of vaccines against other respiratory diseases such as seasonal influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, pending regulatory approvals.