Shanghai’s city government has confirmed on Thursday that it has signed a strategic cooperation agreement with US vaccine maker Moderna Inc.
The news came after a local news outlet said Moderna was set to make an initial investment of about $1 billion in China.
Moderna said on Wednesday it had signed a memorandum of understanding and a land collaboration deal to work towards opportunities for it to research, develop and manufacture mRNA medicines in China.
“Any medicines produced under this agreement will be exclusively for the Chinese people … and will not be exported,” a spokesperson said. He declined to comment on the size of the deal and did not immediately provide any other details.
Expansion in Asia as global demand wanes
The news comes after Chinese authorities including Shanghai’s Communist Party Secretary Chen Jining met with Moderna’s chief executive Stephane Bancel on Wednesday.
“We hope to speed up the implementation of Moderna’s projects … and promote more advanced technologies and innovative products to land in Shanghai,” Chen said in the statement.
Chinese media outlet Yicai reported on Tuesday that Moderna was set to make its first investment in China that could be worth around $1 billion.
Moderna said in May it was looking for opportunities in China after registering a legal entity in the world’s second-largest economy.
The company prior to this had no presence in mainland China. It opened an office in Hong Kong last year as part of an Asia expansion.
Its expansion into mainland China comes as its revenue growth slows sharply due to waning global demand for its Covid-19 vaccine, the US company’s only approved product.
Moderna in February forecast a possible net loss for 2023, calling it a transition year before it starts to see sales from experimental vaccines for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and flu.
Those vaccines, based on the same mRNA platform as its Covid shot, have yet to be filed for regulatory approval decisions.
Moderna has said that it was keen to sell its mRNA vaccine to China but the company and its foreign peers have so far been kept out as Beijing has insisted on using only Chinese-made Covid-19 vaccines for its population.
- Reuters with additional eidting by Jim Pollard