“Advanced discussions” were indeed announced with the European Commission on August 24 for the purchase of 80 million doses of the vaccine, but no firm commitment has been signed since. In the meantime, Moderna has signed with Canada, Japan, Israel, Qatar, the United Kingdom … Not to mention the 100 million doses promised in early August in the United States.
“It’s that there are lots of administrative things, files, stuff, alignments between countries and it’s just complicated to manage when you are 27 compared to when you are alone”, says Stéphane Bancel. . He compares it to Canada: between the first discussions with Moderna’s doctors and the signing of the contract, “it took two weeks”.
The consequence: “It is clear that having fallen behind will not limit the total quantity, it will slow down delivery”, he says. For all countries outside the United States, production will be done in Switzerland, in the factories of the Lonza group, and bottling in Madrid, at the Rovi group.
If ever the vaccine was authorized by the European Medicines Agency before the end of the year, but no contract had yet been signed, “the allocations for the first deliveries would not include Europe. So that would go on. Switzerland, it would go a little bit to Japan, Israel, Canada, therefore to the countries which ordered it. But those which did not order, I will not send them products “.
“The longer they wait, the more it will be shifted in time,” insists Stéphane Bancel. According to him, the discussions do not block the price, but he refuses to say more publicly.
He compares European procrastination to the anticipation of the US government. From March 2, he and the bosses of major laboratories were in the White House around Donald Trump.
The United States granted half a million dollars to Moderna in April, to finance clinical trials. In total, the biotech received $ 2.5 billion in US public money, under the aegis of Operation Warp Speed, officially launched on May 15.
“Operation Warp Speed was one of the most effective things,” said the boss. “We started talking with several European countries in May. We got no help paying for any clinical studies. Everything was taken by the US government and luckily they did, otherwise we didn’t. could not have developed the vaccine at these speeds, as you know we are a company that has never made a euro profit, and the clinical study cost $ 1 billion, “he continues.
Result, the first Americans will undoubtedly be vaccinated before the New Year: “We already have several million doses in store” in the United States “, confirms Stéphane Bancel.
Ten million doses should be in stock before the end of November, and “we will have 20 million doses by the end of the year”.
These 20 million doses will be exclusively intended for the United States. Moderna has also been preparing the supply chain for months with the US government to deliver the doses as soon as the US Drug Agency (FDA) clears the vaccine, a decision expected in December. The goal, he says, is that upon the green light from the FDA, Moderna can “load the trucks and go.”