April 29 (UPI) – Moderna on Thursday announced plans to ramp up global production of its COVID-19 vaccine and said it could produce 3 billion doses next year — twice the number in its original plan.
Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said new investments in Europe and the United States will allow the company to reach the mark in 2022.
“As we follow the rapid spread of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, we believe that there will continue to be a significant need for our mRNA COVID-19 vaccine and our variant booster candidates into 2022 and 2023,” Bancel said in a statement.
The drugmaker also said it’s increased vaccine production for 2021 and now expects about 1 billion doses to be produced by the end of the year. Moderna’s two-shot vaccine, which uses messenger RNA, was the second approved for use in the United States in December and studies have shown it’s about 95% effective.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that the vaccines by Moderna and Pfizer both significantly reduce the risk of hospitalization for older people. The CDC said recipients over 65 are 94% less likely to require hospitalization if they took both doses of the vaccine.
Moderna said Thursday it’s ramping up production due to expected demand for booster vaccinations in 2022 and beyond.
“Waning immunity will impact vaccine efficacy within 12 months, and published studies [show] variants of concern … may lead to breakthrough infections among those already infected or vaccinated, compounding the potential need for variant boosters in the coming years,” Moderna said.
Moderna also said in its announcement Thursday that its vaccine can remain stable at refrigerated temperatures for three months. Previously, the company said it could be refrigerated for up to 30 days.
As of Thursday, about 235 million people in the United States have received at least one vaccine dose and almost 100 million have received both doses, according to the CDC.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which was suspended in the United States for a week due to concerns related to clotting cases, is now being administered again nationwide. That vaccine requires only one dose and is adenovirus-based.