DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan. 18 (Portal) – Moderna (MRNA.O) CEO Stephane Bancel said Wednesday the US company is in active talks to ship COVID-19 vaccines to China.
Speaking to Portal on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, he said talks with Beijing had also touched on factories and other products, including cancer treatments.
“What I really want to understand is how we can help the Chinese government, what their needs are from a health perspective,” he said.
He gave no further details but said he hopes to visit China this year.
Beijing has so far insisted on using only Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccines for its own population, but a raging COVID outbreak is sweeping the country after Beijing reversed itself on previously ultra-tight anti-pandemic curbs.
Health experts fear the outbreak could intensify in areas less well-equipped to deal with it, as millions of Chinese who live in cities head to their hometowns for the Lunar New Year holiday this week.
Chinese-made COVID vaccines are of the inactivated virus type and are not based on the messenger RNA technology used in the most commonly used vaccines developed by Moderna and Pfizer (PFE.N)-BioNTech (22UAy.DE). .
The only foreign syringes used in China are BioNTech cans, which were shipped from Germany late last year and given to citizens living there.
The approval to allow Germans living abroad to get a BioNTech vaccination came as cases rose since Beijing dismantled the zero-COVID lockdown regime.
Regarding cancer treatments, Moderna has been working with Merck (MRK.N) on an experimental melanoma vaccine based on mRNA technology used in successful COVID-19 vaccines. The company has said it will study the approach it has used in lung and other highly mutated cancers.
Earlier in a WEF panel, Bancel said he would like to have factories producing vaccines based on his messenger RNA technology on every continent, while the US company prepares to build four plants.
The company, whose COVID-19 vaccines are manufactured in the United States and Switzerland, is building or planning to build facilities in Canada, Australia, Britain and Kenya, he said.
Reporting by Brenda Goh, Josephine Mason and Natalie Grover; Edited by Alexander Smith and John Stonestreet
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