New vaccine factory in Montreal | Moderna wants to create an entire economic “ecosystem”.

Creation of jobs, increase in median salary, “stimulus” for research: the new Moderna factory in Montreal will have a “very positive” effect on the economy here, predicts the president of the American pharmaceutical company.

Posted at 7:00 am

Henri Ouellette-Vezina

Henri Ouellette-Vezina
The press

“I think we will have a very positive effect on Montreal’s economy. The salary level will be high in the profession. We are talking about people who have significant scientific and technical knowledge. But there will also be all the trades that are indirectly created around,” Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said in an interview The press.

He claims the economic “ecosystem” he wants to create around the factory will include “a whole network of trades,” from pastry chefs to restaurateurs, through local shops. “The most important thing for us is to help the economy here,” he emphasizes.

Wednesday, The press revealed that Montreal had beaten Toronto to house this pharmaceutical giant’s RNA vaccine manufacturing facility. We don’t yet know exactly where the factory will be installed, but several “strategic sectors” of the island have already been defined, says the main prospect. An announcement is to follow soon. And Moderna wants to start construction as early as next summer.

“We want a factory fast, so we really need to start with the foundations and all that before the ground gets too hard in the winter,” says Bancel, who estimates construction will take “two to three years.”

Building a factory like this is “very complex,” he recalls. “We make products that people inject, so very important health rules have to be followed. And we’re really going to start the page from scratch, so we need to build everything and validate everything. »

For every machine, every computer system, every piece of software, we have to prove to Health Canada that everything is working exactly as expected. There is a very high quality requirement that takes time beyond construction. And, of course, staff training also takes time.

Stephane Bancel, CEO of Moderna

He is not planning another plant in Canada for the time being, but he is not closing the door. “In the future we will see the demand. If there is a need we are always ready to build another factory, but for now the goal is to get this one up and running. »

An economic advantage first

At a press conference on Friday, Quebec Premier François Legault also argued that the benefit of an actor like Moderna arriving in Montreal is primarily economic. “If we want to further reduce the wealth gap with our neighbors, we have to increase the average wage. And that’s where we’ll have paid jobs,” he said.

He hopes that Quebec’s culture will “change” in the way universities work with the business community. “Cooperation with companies takes nothing away from the universities. On the contrary, it allows us to do more,” he pleaded, saying he wanted to multiply the “zones of innovation” in the province that carry out “applied and commercialized” research.


Justin Trudeau and Francois Legault

“The arrival of Moderna will create hundreds of good jobs and allow us to continue nurturing talent in science here,” said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, confirming that the facilities will have a production capacity of 100 million doses each would year for both COVID-19 and influenza vaccines. His government also intends to “create an environment in which research and production will thrive.”

In total, the plant will cost 180 million, according to François Legault. For its part, Ottawa will allocate additional budget to purchase vaccines from the new factory.

“We will invent the future of vaccines here at home,” said François-Philippe Champagne, Minister for Innovation, Science and Industry, speaking of a big step for Canada’s research ecosystem. “It’s a consecration,” said Quebec Minister of Health Christian Dubé, who said the entire healthcare network will benefit from this new facility.

Behind the scenes, there is a reminder that this facility represents a critical step in the Trudeau administration’s efforts to rebuild the country’s biological manufacturing and life sciences sector. The facility will make it possible to consolidate the pharmaceutical industry ecosystem in the Montreal region, for example to prepare for other “possible pandemics”.

Moderna is one of two major makers of messenger RNA COVID-19 vaccines worldwide — the other is Pfizer-BioNTech. The vaccines produced by these two companies have been used by many countries to vaccinate their populations, including Canada and the United States.

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