Where is Moderna based? Who owns the company working on a new Covid-19 vaccine?

Olivia Olphin November 17, 2020
Where is Moderna based? Who owns the company working on a new Covid-19 vaccine?
Photo by JOEL SAGET/AFP via Getty Images

Where is Moderna based? And who is the CEO of the pharmaceutical company working on a new covid-19 vaccine?

With the recent news of the Pfizer vaccine’s potential 90% efficacy rate, other covid vaccines are coming under the media microscope. Moderna has just released information about their vaccine human trials. Let’s take a look at the company itself, where Moderna is based and what the potential for their vaccine is.

What is Moderna?

In their press release today, Moderna Therapeutics described themselves as “a biotechnology company pioneering messenger RNA (mRNA) therapeutics and vaccines to create a new generation of transformative medicines for patients.”

Photo by Lane Turner/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

mRNA stands for messenger ribonucleuc acid, which is vital in the body for protein synthesis. Moderna describes it as ‘a single-stranded molecule that carries genetic code from DNA in a cell’s nucleus to ribosomes, the cell’s protein-making machinery.’

So how is this related to a vaccine? Moderna “[focuses] on diseases where enabling targeted cells to produce – or turn ‘on’ – one or more given proteins will enable the body to fight or prevent a given disease.”

The mRNA base of the vaccine means that this and the Pfizer vaccine, which is also mRNA based, are being produced much faster than regular vaccines.

The BBC reports that “both vaccines use the same approach of injecting part of the virus’s genetic code in order to provoke an immune response.”

Where is Moderna based?

Moderna Therapeutics was founded in 2010 and is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the United States.

They also have a manufacturing site in Norwood, Massachusetts.

According to Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel: “The Norwood site is core to our long-term strategy, enabling us to leverage the potential of our mRNA platform, control our supply chain, and provide the necessary scale and flexibility to support the development of high-quality mRNA medicines for patients in the decades ahead.”

How did the vaccine trials go?

Moderna just announced that their vaccine, mRNA-1273 met its ‘primary efficacy endpoint’. The trial included 30,000 enrolled participants, and the first interim analysis is based on 95 patients who had confirmed cases of covid-19. Half of the participants were injected with the vaccine twice, 28 days apart, and half with a placebo at the same intervals.

The results showed “a vaccine efficacy of 94.5% (p <0.0001).” However, only 5 of the 95 confirmed cases were within the vaccinated group, the other 90 were within the placebo group. This means only five of those who had confirmed coronavirus were injected with the vaccine.

Efficacy examines the performance of the vaccine under controlled circumstances. In this test, compared with a control group or a placebo, this vaccine prevented covid-19 symptoms in 94.5% of those who were given the treatment. Trials for the vaccine are still ongoing.

Who is Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel?

Bancel has been the CEO of Moderna since 2011 and before that he was part of the board of directors. Prior to his work with the biotech company, he worked at a French diagnostics company called bioMérieux SA for six years.

Photo by Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Bancel achieved his Masters in engineering from the French postgraduate institution École Centrale Paris (ECP), and went on to gain an MBA from Harvard and a Masters in chemical engineering from the University of Minnesota.

In April 2020, Forbes estimated Bancel’s net worth was just above $1 billion.

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Olivia Olphin is an English Literature graduate and a film and literature fanatic. She has many years of reviewing experience, recently working as accredited press for the London Film Festival. She has also written widely about culture and sex education, as well as LGBTQ+ and women's issues.