US biotechnology company Moderna Inc has announced plans to set up a local presence in Malaysia, as well as in Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong. The expansion builds on the company’s existing collaboration with South Korea and Australia, where it provides local opportunities for research and manufacturing.
The company’s senior vice president for commercial vaccines, Patrick N Bergstedt, told New Straits Times that Malaysia’s pro-vaccination and pro-industry stance provides an opportunity to collaborate with hospitals and universities to develop messenger RNA (mRNA) therapeutics. “I am excited to build strong teams that can deliver on the potential this region and our mRNA platform has to offer,” said CEO Stéphane Bancel.
It currently has 40 development programmes in the pipeline, one of which is a pan-respiratory annual booster vaccine that covers multiple diseases such as COVID-19, the flu, and Respiratory Syncytial Virus. The three-in-one jab would be much more convenient for customers and reduce the administration cost for health care providers.
Moderna’s Spikevax COVID-19 is one of only two mRNA COVID-19 vaccines approved by the World Health Organisation and has been approved in 85 countries so far. The COVID jab was given the green light in Malaysia last August, but was not included in the national vaccination programme’s portfolio due to its high price tag.