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Moderna extends lipids deal to boost COVID-19 vaccine output

Moderna said last week that the vaccine candidate, the first to be tested in the United States, produced protective antibodies in a small group of healthy volunteers, offering a glimmer of hope for a vaccine among the most advanced in development.

May 28, 2020 / 02:13 PM IST

Moderna Inc has extended a deal to secure large volumes of the lipids used to produce its experimental COVID-19 vaccine in a bid to meet increasing demand for the medicine, the US biotech company said on Thursday.

Moderna said last week that the vaccine candidate, the first to be tested in the United States, produced protective antibodies in a small group of healthy volunteers, offering a glimmer of hope for a vaccine among the most advanced in development.

The expanded agreement with pharmaceutical ingredient supplier CordenPharma will be effective immediately to help meet its increasing demand over the coming months, Moderna said in a statement.

"This expansion will increase supply of lipid excipients used to manufacture our mRNA products," Moderna's chief technical operations and quality officer, Juan Andres, said.

Moderna plans to supply millions of doses per month in 2020 and tens of millions a month in 2021 if the vaccine proves successful.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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There are currently no approved treatments or vaccines for COVID-19, and experts predict a safe and effective vaccine could take 12 to 18 months from the start of development, which in Moderna's case was in January.

Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.
Reuters
first published: May 28, 2020 02:07 pm

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