Moderna to build mRNA vaccine plant in Canada

Pharmaceutical company signed an agreement with Ottawa on Tuesday

US pharmaceutical company Moderna has agreed to build a state-of-the-art vaccine plant in Canada.

Moderna chief executive Stephane Bancel and Canada’s Minister for Innovation, Science and Industry Francois-Philippe Champagne announced the agreement on Tuesday in Montreal.

The plant will be Moderna’s first production and research site outside of the US.

“As Moderna expands internationally, we see Canada as an important partner and we are delighted to be able to help the country ensure local supply and manufacturing capability of breakthrough mRNA technology on Canadian soil,” said Mr Bancel.

The announcement was light on details and Mr Champagne said the location for the plant had yet to be determined.

But Mr Bancel said the designs for the plant had already been completed and the company would spend the next few weeks looking for the best place to build.

“I think the number one thing for us is talent because it's all about people,” said Mr Bancel in his comments on possible locations for the future site.

As part of the agreement, the federal government has committed to buying an undisclosed number of vaccines from Moderna per year.

The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company was founded 11 years ago and has been a leading player in producing vaccines against Covid-19. Moderna swung to a $2.8 billion profit in the second quarter this year from a loss in the same period a year ago.

Mr Champagne said the company would be investing hundreds of millions of dollars in Canada and assured Canadians it was “a good deal” for them.

Last spring, as part of its 2021 budget, Ottawa announced it would invest CAN$2.2 billion (US$1.75 billion) in biotechnology research and production over the next seven years.

Canada’s vaccine distribution programme was slow to start, in large part because the country had no in-house vaccine production plants and had to rely on other countries for doses.

“This will make sure Canada is prepared for future pandemics and other health emergencies, strengthen our economy and create good jobs for Canadians,” said Mr Champagne.

The announcement comes as the Liberal government is widely expected to call a snap federal election in the coming days.

Updated: August 11th 2021, 3:51 AM