Moderna will make up to 3 billion doses of its COVID-19 vaccine in 2022, the biotech said Thursday.
The CEO said "there will continue to be significant need" for shots and boosters in 2022 and 2023.
The company is testing lower doses as booster shots, which could expand future supply.
Moderna is anticipating a "significant need" for its COVID-19 vaccine through 2022 and 2023, leading the biotech firm to ramp up production efforts, the company said early Thursday.
Moderna is aiming to manufacture up to 3 billion doses in 2022, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company said in a statement, up from as many as 1 billion this year.
CEO Stéphane Bancel said the spread of variants will keep demand high for the shots.
"As we follow the rapid spread of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, we believe that there will continue to be significant need for our mRNA COVID-19 vaccine and our variant booster candidates into 2022 and 2023," Bancel said in a statement.
We may need to get COVID-19 booster shots
While the shots have proven to be overwhelmingly protective and safe in clinical trials and in the real-world rollout, scientists are unsure how long protection will last. Bancel and Albert Bourla, the CEO of Pfizer, have both recently suggested that a booster shot would likely be needed within 12 months of getting vaccinated to maintain protection.
The exact number of vaccine doses Moderna will make next year hinges in part on the size of the doses. Moderna is currently testing whether booster shots can given at a lower dose.
In particular, the company's two-dose vaccine is given as two 100-microgram injections, four weeks apart. In ongoing clinical trials, the company is testing strengths for the booster shot of 20 micrograms and 50 micrograms.
Moderna is boosting its manufacturing capabilities
In anticipation of future demand, Moderna is investing in its global supply chain, which spans the US, Spain, France, Belgium, and Switzerland. To produce its vaccine, Moderna works with a range of contractors, including Switzerland's Lonza and Spain's Rovi.
But it also has been building up its in-house capabilities, mainly out of its 200,000-square-foot plant in Norwood, Massachusetts, which was formerly a Polaroid factory.
The biotech is also expanding its presence in Norwood. Alexandria Real Estate Equities disclosed earlier this week that it signed a lease with the biotech for a 240,000-square-foot site down the street from its existing manufacturing campus. The property includes another 350,000 square feet of space that could be developed in the future.
Moderna's shot is one of three US-authorized coronavirus vaccines. More than 140 million adults in the US have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, making up 55% of the adult population, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The other two vaccines in use in the US were developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson. About 102 million doses of Moderna's vaccine have been used in the US so far, per CDC data.
Moderna also tightened its 2021 supply forecast Thursday. The company now expects to produce 800 million to 1 billion doses overall this year. Previously, the company was projecting 700 million to 1 billion in 2021 production.
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