Moderna to set up new subsidiary in Singapore

The new subsidiaries will add to the Covid-19 vaccine manufacturer's presence in the Asia-Pacific region. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Biotechnology company Moderna has announced plans to set up a new subsidiary in Singapore, along with three additional ones in Malaysia, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

The new subsidiaries will add to the Covid-19 vaccine manufacturer's presence in the Asia-Pacific region. It currently has offices in Japan, South Korea, and Australia.

In a press release on Tuesday (Feb 15), Moderna chief executive Stephane Bancel said: "I am pleased to announce that Moderna will be expanding into Singapore, the biotech epicentre of Asia... the Singapore biopharma industry is witnessing an incredible period of growth.

"We are excited for Moderna to become part of that journey and to continue to leverage our mRNA platform to help solve health challenges across the Asia-Pacific region."

mRNA relies on synthetic genes that can be generated and manufactured in weeks, and produced at scale more rapidly than conventional vaccines.

The statement did not say when the Singapore subsidiary will be set up, but it added that Moderna will be recruiting a team in Singapore as the company's mRNA therapeutics business grows.

The team will cover a range of functions in areas such as medical, regulatory, pricing, reimbursement, market access, government affairs, and commercial operations.

Singapore offers a high number of skilled workers, government support for the sector and a business-friendly regulatory environment, Moderna said.

Singapore's attractiveness has also caught the eyes of other vaccine makers.

In May last year, vaccine maker BioNTech, which has partnered Pfizer on its Covid-19 shot, said it would be designating Singapore as its regional headquarters for South-east Asia and would set up an mRNA manufacturing facility here.

In April last year, pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur said it is investing €400 million (S$611 million) over five years to build a vaccine production centre in the Republic. Construction was slated to start last year and the factory is expected to be fully operational in the first quarter of 2026.

Moderna said it currently has a presence in twelve markets globally. Its Covid-19 vaccine has also been approved in more than 70 markets, including at least 19 in Asia-Pacific.

Its vaccine is part of Singapore’s national vaccination programme and is currently authorised for individuals aged 18 and above here.

It also added that it is planning to develop an annual single booster vaccine that can cover multiple respiratory viruses, including Covid-19 and influenza.

It is also looking to develop vaccines against latent viruses. There are no approved vaccines for these viruses, Moderna said.

Latent viruses infect the body, lay dormant and do not replicate, but possess the capacity to activate, causing disease.

Moderna added that it has clinical candidates in development for several latent viruses, including for the human immunodeficiency virus.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.