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Moderna plans major expansion at Massachusetts manufacturing site to help boost COVID-19 vaccine supply

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With plans to boost COVID-19 vaccine production into the billions of doses next year, Moderna is making major renovations at its Massachusetts manufacturing site that will more than double its size. 

The mRNA developer on Tuesday said it plans to renovate its manufacturing site in Norwood, Massachusetts, from “a production and lab space to an industrial technology center.” That means expanding the facility, from 300,000 square feet to roughly 650,000 square feet through the acquisition of another building located on the same campus.

The expansion will boost Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine production capacity at the facility by 50%. That increased output is expected to come into play in late 2021 and early 2022, Moderna said. 

The latest renovations are part of the reasoning why Moderna recently accelerated its vaccine supply forecasts. The biotech announced late last week that it now expects to produce 800 million to 1 billion doses of its mRNA vaccine this year, with plans to grow production to 3 billion doses by 2022. 

RELATED: Moderna blueprints plant upgrades to rev up vaccine supply to 3B doses a year

In addition to a larger vaccine supply, the expansion will also support Moderna’s continued mRNA vaccine development. The project will expand the company’s technical development capacity and preclinical production capability “with the goal of producing thousands of preclinical samples per month for research and development.”

It will also aid Moderna’s “focus and investment in technical capabilities, such as expansion of shelf-life stability and new pharmaceutical delivery forms such as prefilled syringes and lyophilized products,” the company said. 

The Norwood facility, which first opened in July 2018, has been “core” to the company’s long-term strategy and has supported its mRNA advancement, including the technology used for its COVID-19 shot, CEO Stéphane Bancel said in a statement. Moderna did not disclose how much the expansion would cost. 

RELATED: The next big COVID-19 bottleneck? A shortage of trained vaccine workers, experts say

While Moderna handles the bulk of its manufacturing work in the U.S., the company’s European supply chain depends upon Swiss CDMO Lonza, which has struggled to hire enough specialized personnel for its vaccine production push, Bancel has previously disclosed. 

Last month, Moderna had to cut back deliveries to “a number of countries,” including the U.K. and Canada, following production problems in its European supply chain. However, Moderna has since said it would commit some of its cash to bolster drug substance manufacturing at its CDMO partners, including Lonza and Spain’s Rovi. 

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