Moderna Inc.is adding two new production lines at the rebuilt former Polaroid plant where it manufactures its Covid-19 vaccine, part of a push to prepare for making booster shots and the future of the pandemic.
At a site brimming with new steel production tanks and heavy equipment, construction workers in neon safety vests are working to get one new line up and running by fall and the other by early 2022.
The additions will help Moderna increase overall production capacity by 50% at its plant in the Boston suburb of Norwood, company officials said.
Moderna and its manufacturing partners also are expanding production capacity outside the U.S., with a goal to roughly triple the annual global output of Covid-19 vaccine doses to about 3 billion in 2022 from as many as 1 billion this year.
Moderna recently cut supplies to the U.K., Canada and other countries outside the U.S. because a contract manufacturer in Europe underestimated how many workers it needed to hire.
Additional setbacks could keep Moderna from meeting its production goals. Scott Nickerson, head of U.S. manufacturing at Moderna, said the latest challenge is finding enough raw materials used in the production process, especially plastic bags, tubes and filters.
The latest expansion will help Moderna boost its overall supply of Covid-19 vaccine doses to the U.S. and other countries, company officials said.
The company said earlier this week it had agreed to provide the U.S. an additional 200 million doses starting later this year, on top of the 300 million Moderna expects it will have delivered for U.S. use by the end of July.
Outside the U.S., Moderna has supply deals with the European Union and the international Covax initiative to provide doses to low- and middle-income countries. The company has also received inquiries from governments in Asia, Africa and Latin America seeking supplies of Covid-19 vaccines.
The company expects the additional output of doses to include vaccines intended as booster shots that might be needed to prolong immunity and better target new coronavirus variants.
Some of the new supply may also be lower-dose shots intended for young children, if clinical data support their use.
For the expansion, Moderna has already brought in some of the steel tanks, white plastic drums, tubes and other equipment needed for production, waiting for finishing touches and validation.
The company currently makes between 40 million to 50 million doses a month in the U.S.