Moderna targets third quarter for first doses of possible COVID-19 vaccine with Catalent deal

(Reuters) – Moderna Inc (MRNA.O) said Thursday that it was partnering with contract pharmacist Catalent Inc (CTLT.N) to prepare 100 million initial doses of its coronavirus vaccine for the United States, starting in the third quarter of this year.

FILE PHOTO: A sign marks the headquarters of Moderna Therapeutics, which is developing a vaccine against coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, May 18, 2020. REUTERS / Brian Snyder / File photo

Catalent will fill and package doses, support production and provide additional 24-hour operations staff to produce the vaccine, which is still in clinical trials.

The vaccine, one of the first to be tested on humans in the United States, was found to produce protective antibodies in a small group of healthy volunteers last month.

Moderna is preparing to begin the final stages of testing in July to assess the vaccine’s effectiveness in preventing respiratory disease in about 30,000 adult trial participants.

The company previously entered into agreements with the United States government to obtain funding to increase manufacturing, and a 10-year collaboration with Swiss contract drug maker Lonza Group AG (LONN.S), with the goal of 500 million doses per year and one billion doses starting in 2021.

Catalent will also provide other packaging and labeling, storage and distribution services at its facilities to support Moderna’s advanced-stage vaccine trial, which is expected to start in July, Moderna said Thursday. (

Pharmacists, including Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) and AstraZeneca Plc (AZN.L) have also signed agreements to increase the manufacturing capacity of their experimental vaccines even before they have adequate evidence of their efficacy.

There are no approved treatments or vaccines for COVID-19, with vaccines from other drug manufacturers, including Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N), Sanofi SANY.PA and AstraZeneca Plc (AZN.L) at various stages of development.

Both Moderna and Catalent are also in talks to produce hundreds of millions of additional doses, the vaccine’s developer said.

Israel signed an agreement with Moderna in June for the future purchase of its potential COVID-19 vaccine, without disclosing financial details.

Report by Saumya Sibi Joseph in Bangalore; Shailesh Kuber and Arun Koyyur Edition

Our Standards:Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.