Moderna swings into expansion mode, adding 6 European countries to its commercial empire

Moderna is spreading its wings in Europe. After setting up shop in some of the largest economies of the region last year, the mRNA specialist is expanding its commercial network to cover half a dozen more countries.

Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Sweden will soon host Moderna’s commercial teams as part of the U.S. biotech’s expansion to “support the delivery of mRNA vaccines and therapeutics locally,” Moderna said Wednesday.

The teams will join Moderna’s existing 247 employees in Europe. The new hires will cover a range of functions including medical, regulatory, pricing, reimbursement, market access, government affairs and commercial operations, a Moderna spokesperson told Fierce Pharma.

The additions come after Moderna in 2021 built commercial subsidiaries in Italy, France, Germany, Spain, the U.K. and Switzerland, where Moderna’s manufacturing partner Lonza helps make the COVID-19 vaccine Spikevax. 

RELATED: Moderna plots 4 new Asia branches, local hiring spree to build its commercial footprint for life beyond COVID shots

Also on the manufacturing front, Moderna in June expanded its collaboration with Lonza, tapping a new drug substance line at the CDMO’s site in Geleen, Netherlands, to support the manufacture of the COVID shot. In Spain, local firm Rovi just inked a 10-year extension to its ongoing manufacturing deal with Moderna. And France’s Recipharm also makes drug substance for the company’s COVID vaccine for Europe.

Poland, known as the heart of Europe for its geographical positioning, is already home to the Moderna International Business Services Center, which provides supporting functions such as finance, human resources, IT and pharmacovigilance.

Besides Europe, Moderna is simultaneously planting more flags in Asia, with four new branches being planned in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan.

In Africa, Moderna has pledged up to $500 million to build an mRNA manufacturing facility that could eventually make up to 500 million doses annually at the 50-µg dose level. The exact site remains unclear as Rwanda, Senegal and South Africa have been floated as candidates, according to Reuters.

Building a new production site can be more time-consuming than installing a commercial team. CEO Stéphane Bancel has said completion of the African project will take two to four years.

RELATED: BioNTech to ship modular mRNA factories to Africa starting this year

The expansion spree comes as Moderna has secured advance vaccine purchase agreements worth $18.5 billion for deliveries in 2022 along with options for another $3.5 billion as of January.

Moderna is currently in the thick of development of an omicron-specific booster. That shot could be ready by August, Bancel reportedly told Reuters.

Meanwhile, Moderna’s mRNA rival BioNTech has also been branching out geographically, with a similar ambition to become a global immunotherapy powerhouse. Besides an existing footprint in Germany and the U.S., BioNTech has also opened offices in China, Singapore and Turkey. Wednesday, the company unveiled modular factories that can be transferred in shipping containers.