The arduous start-up path of vaccine company Moderna
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The arduous start-up path of vaccine company Moderna

During a press conference at the White House yesterday (August 11), US President Donald Trump announced an agreement with biotechnology company Moderna worth $1.5 billion to produce 100 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine.

Moderna is a company co-founded and chaired by Noubar Afeyan.

During this time, he also founded or co-founded five other companies.

Moderna has faced many doubts since its inception, with its unproven drug production method – using mRNA technology, and has not brought any products to market for many years.

Moderna CEO St├ęphane Bancel.

In 2011, Afeyan approached St├ęphane Bancel – an experienced engineer who had worked as a leader at pharmaceutical companies Eli Lilly and bioMerieux.

Bancel received Afeyan’s offer with suspicion.

The turning point came in 2013, when Bancel convinced pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca to pay $240 million for the rights to drugs created from Moderna’s research.

The arduous start-up path of vaccine company Moderna

Moderna’s manufacturing facility in Norwood, Massachusetts.

However, at the beginning of this year, Moderna was still an unknown name, until they produced a Covid-19 vaccine that was considered very potential and was put into testing at an unprecedented speed.

`If Moderna used traditional vaccine development technologies, the company would probably still be in the research process and could not even begin production as it is achieving,` Bancel told Business Insider.

Thanks to progress in creating a Covid-19 vaccine, Moderna shares listed on the Nasdaq have more than tripled compared to the beginning of the year.

Moderna is racing against time and pressure to produce a vaccine.

The challenge of developing the first Covid-19 vaccine in the US also means that Bancel and his colleagues are under even more pressure.

`Our culture is one of constant effort. Moderna’s ability to respond quickly to the coronavirus pandemic is the result of nine years of hard work,` Bancel said.

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