Moderna’s vaccine against Covid-19 joined Pfizer/BioNtech’s in the revolution against Covid-19. In less than a year, at the beginning of 2021, the American biopharma managed to launch its product. It is now working on the bivalent version, which will be used for both the original virus and the omicron variant. Dan Staner (born in Romania in 1968 although living in Switzerland since he was a child) is vice president of the company and its manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. He joined Moderna in August 2020 after an extensive career at Lilly. modern will invest 500 million in Spain in its alliance with Rovias the company announced yesterday after a meeting with Pedro Sánchez.
When do you expect the results of the bivalent vaccine?
The results indicate an improvement in the objectives that had been set. We will now send the dossier to the European Medicines Agency for evaluation. We wait for it before summer.
Will it replace the new vaccine?
We hope that our vaccine can be used in the fall, in September or October, as the fourth dose.
With the authorization, will the annual production target change?
No. The objectives will not change, because all the basic production materials such as raw materials, vials or caps are purchased at least one year before.
“We hope in the coming weeks or months to also have a contract for 2023 with the European Commission”
When will it be on the market?
It depends on the European Medicines Agency, but my estimate is that it will be approved between July and September.
What is the production goal?
Once the bivalent is approved, 100% of the production will be of the new vaccine.
At the end of the year, how many doses will Moderna manufacture?
We expect investments made in 2021 to increase our 2022 global capacity to manufacture up to 3 billion. With the future vaccine, which improves on the current one, I hope that many of the countries will change and place new orders.
Will there be a fourth dose in Europe?
It does not depend on us. It depends on the authorities of each country. The big five countries in Europe, including the UK, have their own guides.
Will they agree on a centralized purchase with Brussels by 2023?
I do not know yet. Pfizer/BioNTech already have it. But we hope in the next few weeks or months to also have a new contract for 2023 with the European Commission.
For how many doses?
It is not known. Because it depends on what each country wants.
What price will the bivalent have?
We will keep the price.
And what is that price?
We cannot reveal it, it is one of the confidential points of the agreement with the European Commission.
“The next vaccine will be the combination of Covid and flu”
What will your next product be?
The next vaccine will probably be the combination of Covid-19 and seasonal flu, by 2024.
Will RNA vaccines replace current flu vaccines?
It’s hard to say. Moderna’s intention is to bring vaccines that are disruptive to the flu market, more effective, safer and more tolerable.
Will they be more expensive?
It is difficult to calculate. The combination is going to bring added value, since it may be one for the flu that is more effective and also prevents Covid, and in the future indications for other respiratory diseases may be added. The value they may have must be studied from the pharmacoeconomic point of view.
What are Moderna’s plans for Spain?
We have two manufacturing locations in the world, one in the United States for that market, Canada and Australia, and one in Spain and Switzerland for the rest of the world. In Spain we finish the vaccine. It is one of the key points.
What other vaccines can be produced with Rovi?
Rovi may do all of our vaccines in the future. We have extended the production agreement with Rovi for another 10 years. One of the beauties of having the messenger RNA platform is that in the morning you can make Covid vaccines and in the afternoon make vaccines for cancer or rare diseases. In the same plant, with the same technology and the same equipment, all the vaccines can be made. Spain is one of the most important countries where we are going to make very aggressive investments to consolidate our production.
How many vaccines will Rovi manufacture in Spain for you?
Rovi will manufacture in Spain more than half of the vaccines that are distributed in the world. The teams are ours and the people in charge of quality are ours. Rovi handles the production.
How many doses can Rovi make for Moderna this year?
Last year it was 500 million and this year we have a maximum capacity of up to 800 to 1,000 million doses.
Why only bet on a single partner like Rovi?
Moderna is a small company. We have to focus on technology and research and development of the products of the future, not on production. We had to find out the crème de la crème, the best of the best in production. There are few companies in the world with the capacity, talent and dynamism and those are our partners Lonza in Switzerland and Rovi in Spain.
What other vaccines are you waiting for?
In addition to the combination of influenza and Covid, there will be another to which the respiratory syncytial virus is added and, surely, in the future another one that has the four most common respiratory viruses. In addition, there will be another for cytomegalovirus, other latent viruses, also for rare and autoimmune diseases.
Of all these vaccines, surely the ones that attract the most attention will be the cancer vaccines. When can it be a reality that the first vaccine is approved?
We hope that from 2025, sometime between 2025 and 2030, the vaccines to cure cancer will arrive.
What will be the first cancer?
It is difficult to know which will be the first, because many are being studied in parallel for different types of tumors. For example, intratumoral that cause the tumor to be destroyed from within and others that attack the tumor through the immune system.
They are working on a personalized cancer vaccine. What does it consist of?
The personalized cancer vaccine is indicated for patients with metastatic common epithelial cancers. It targets 20 tumor-associated antigens specifically expressed by the patient’s cancer cells.