Moderna, Inc. (MRNA - Free Report) announced a manufacturing agreement with drug delivery specialist, Catalent, Inc. (CTLT - Free Report) .
The companies have collaborated for large-scale, commercial fill-finish manufacturing of the former’s mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate (mRNA-1273) at the latter’s biologics facility in Bloomington, IN.
Per the agreement, Catalent will provide vial filling and packaging capacity along with additional staffing required for the ongoing manufacturing operations at the site in order to support the production of the initial 100 million doses of the candidate. These vaccine doses are expected to be available in the United States in the third quarter of 2020.
The companies are also in discussions to secure fill-finish capacity for continued production of hundreds of millions of additional doses.
Additionally, Catalent will provide clinical supply services from its facilities in Philadelphia, PA, including packaging and labeling as well as storage and distribution to support Moderna’s phase III study for this candidate. Earlier in the month, Moderna finalized the phase III study protocol based on feedback from the FDA. The company expects dosing in the phase III study to begin in July.
Moderna’s shares have rallied 203.4% in the year so far compared with the industry’s growth of 13.6%.
The year so far has been all about coronavirus treatments/vaccines as the pandemic deepens, resulting in more and more fatalities with each passing day. Desperate times call for desperate measures and the pharma/biotech companies are currently evaluating every possible weapon in their arsenal to contain and fight this outbreak.
Given the severity of the pandemic and the urgency of a vaccine, most companies are gearing up to keep doses ready even before the safety and effectiveness of the candidates are proved.
Currently, there are no approved treatments or vaccines for COVID-19. Big drug makers, like AstraZeneca Plc (AZN - Free Report) and Johnson & Johnson, are also gearing up for the development of a vaccine and to make it available as fast as possible.
Earlier this month, AstraZeneca reached an agreement with Europe’s Inclusive Vaccines Alliance (IVA) to supply up to 400 million doses of the University of Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine. Deliveries are expected to start by the end of 2020.
INOVIO recently received a $71-million contract from the U.S. Department of Defense to scale up the manufacturing of CELLECTRA 3PSP Smart Device and procurement of CELLECTRA 2000 for COVID-19 DNA vaccine.
The company currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
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