Moderna eyes third quarter for first doses of potential COVID-19 vaccine with Catalent deal

(Reuters) - Moderna Inc announced on Thursday that it has partnered with contract drug maker Catalent Inc to produce the first 100 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine for the United States starting in the third quarter of this year.
Catalent will fill and pack cans, support production, and provide additional 24/7 operations personnel to manufacture the vaccine, which is still in clinical trials.
The vaccine, one of the first to be tested in 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 test phases in July to assess the effectiveness of the vaccine in preventing respiratory disease in around 30,000 adult study participants.
The company had previously signed contracts with the U.S. government to increase production and a 10-year collaboration with Swiss contract drug maker Lonza Group AG with the goal of receiving 500 million cans per year and 1 billion cans from 2021.
Catalent will also offer other packaging, labeling, storage and distribution services at its facilities to support Moderna's late-stage vaccine study, which is expected to begin in July, Moderna said Thursday. (https://reut.rs/384fCLt)
Drug manufacturers such as Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca Plc have also signed agreements to increase the production capacity for their experimental vaccines before there is sufficient evidence of their effectiveness.
There are no approved treatments or vaccines for COVID-19, with vaccines from other drug companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi and AstraZeneca Plc at various stages of development.
Both Moderna and Catalent are currently in talks about producing hundreds of millions of additional doses, the vaccine developer said.
Israel signed an agreement with Moderna in June to purchase its potential COVID-19 vaccine in the future without disclosing financial details.
(Reporting by Saumya Sibi Joseph in Bengaluru; editing by Shailesh Kuber and Arun Koyyur)

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