EU wraps up advanced talks with Moderna for COVID-19 vaccine supply deal

The European Commission said Monday that it concluded exploratory talks with Moderna for an initial purchase of 80 million doses of the company's mRNA vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV-2. The contractual framework would also provide an option for EU member states to purchase an additional 80 million doses for a total of up to 160 million doses.

Moderna is the fifth company with which the Commission has concluded talks, following previous negotiations with Sanofi and partner GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson and CureVac, and the signing of an advance purchase deal recently with AstraZeneca. Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said "we continue talks with other companies, as we want to make sure that vaccines are rapidly available on the market."

Recent US supply deal

Moderna said it was working with manufacturing partners like Lonza and Laboratorios Farmacéuticos ROVI to produce the vaccine outside the US. The company recently reached a $1.5-billion deal with the US to supply 100 million doses of mRNA-1273, including incentive payments for timely delivery. That agreement also includes an option to purchase up to another 400 million doses.

Last month, an interim analysis of a Phase I study found that mRNA-1273 induced "robust" neutralising antibody titers in all 45 study subjects, and also elicited T-cell responses, while producing only mild-to-moderate side effects, typically after the second dose. Meanwhile, a Phase III trial got under way recently, and is testing the candidate vaccine against placebo in approximately 30,000 participants. On Monday, Moderna indicated that the late-stage study is on track to complete in September.

It also reiterated that it is scaling up global manufacturing of the vaccine to be able to deliver approximately 500 million doses per year and possibly up to 1 billion doses per year, beginning in 2021.

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