Lonza headquarters
Switzerland's Lonza is working with two leading COVID-19 vaccine makers to scale up production. (Lonza)

Partners: Moderna, AstraZeneca

One of the largest contract manufacturers in the world, Switzerland's Lonza was a natural target for the biggest players in the race for a COVID-19 vaccine. After signing an early deal with one of those competitors, Lonza wrapped up a recent deal to cement its role in the hunt. 

In May, Moderna tapped Lonza to flesh out manufacturing suites at two of the CDMO's facilities to boost production of Moderna's mRNA vaccine candidate, dubbed mRNA-1273, for 10 years. 

The agreement initially brought suites online at Lonza facilities in the U.S. and Switzerland, with technology transfer beginning in June. With the manufacturing apparatus in place, Moderna began batch production at the U.S. site as early as July. 

The manufacturer is boosting production in Portsmouth, New Hampshire—a project that was set to be completed in November— and a second facility in Visp, Switzerland. That second plant's expansion was due for completion in December, according to Reuters. 

Lonza is pouring $60 million to $70 million into the first Visp line, while Moderna pays for the first U.S. assembly and potentially three more. The goal is to make enough ingredients for 600 million to 1 billion doses of the vaccine each year.

If all goes to plan, the partners will continue to build out additional manufacturing sites that could bring Moderna's capacity up to 1 billion shots per year, the drugmakers said.

RELATED: Moderna aims for a billion COVID-19 shots a year with Lonza manufacturing tie-up