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Stephane Bancel of Moderna Talks Supply of COVID Vaccines with China

Stephane Bancel

On Wednesday, Moderna’s CEO, Stephane Bancel, announced that negotiations to sell COVID-19 vaccines to China were still ongoing.

He claimed that the talks with Beijing also covered factories and other issues, such as cancer treatments, in an interview with Reuters on the fringes of the Davos World Economic Forum.

“What I really want to understand is how do we help the Chinese government as to what are the needs they have from a healthcare standpoint,” he stated. 

Without giving any additional details, he said he hoped to visit China this year.

Beijing has insisted that only COVID-19 vaccines made in China are given to its citizens, but the country is currently gripped by a raging COVID epidemic as a result of Beijing’s relaxation of previously extremely strict anti-pandemic regulations.

Health professionals are concerned that the outbreak may get worse in areas that aren’t equipped to handle it as millions of Chinese people who live in cities return home this week for the Lunar New Year holidays.

The COVID vaccines made in China use inactivated virus rather than the most widely used injections developed by Moderna and Pfizer (PFE). The messenger RNA technology of N)-BioNTech.

China only uses the BioNTech doses that Germany sent late last year for its nationals residing there as imported vaccines.

German expatriates were given the go-ahead to receive a BioNTech shot because cases have risen since Beijing ended the zero-COVID lockdown policy.

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Other Benefits

Moderna and Merck have been working together to fight cancer on an experimental melanoma vaccine based on the same mRNA technology as the COVID-19 vaccines.

The business has stated that it intends to research the strategy it has employed in highly mutated tumors, including lung cancer.

Prior to the U.S. business preparing to construct four sites, Bancel stated at a WEF panel discussion that he would like to see factories producing vaccines based on its messenger RNA technology on every continent.

According to him, the business is currently building or plans to establish plants in Canada, Australia, Britain, and Kenya for the production of COVID-19 vaccines, which are made in the United States and Switzerland.

Who is Bancel?

French businessman Stéphane Bancel, who is worth $1 billion, was born on July 20, 1972. He serves as the president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Moderna, an American biotechnology and pharmaceutical business best known for its COVID-19 vaccine. 

Bancel served as the CEO of the French diagnostics company BioMérieux before to joining Moderna. Bancel has held positions on the boards of Qiagen, Indigo Agriculture, and Boston’s Museum of Science. He is a partner with Flagship Pioneering. 

He owned around 8% of Moderna as of December 2022, when his net worth was projected to be US$6 billion.

France’s Marseille is where Bancel was born. His mother was a doctor, while his father was an engineer. In his early years, he was interested in science, math, and computers.

Bancel obtained master’s degrees from the University of Minnesota and CentraleSupélec, where he studied engineering (biological engineering at the University of Minnesota). Later, he graduated from Harvard Business School with an MBA.

At Eli Lilly and Company, Bancel worked as the director of sales before rising to the position of head of operations for Belgium. He was given credit for increasing the company’s margins when he was named CEO of the French diagnostics company BioMérieux in 2007.

Bancel became the CEO of Moderna in 2011. According to Stat, Bancel had a very closed-off culture and little external scrutiny of its science or research.

Two kids are raised by Bancel. Bancel’s roughly 9% stake in Moderna increased in value to over $1 billion in April 2020 as the company’s stock price increased following the announcement of impending phase 2 human trials for its potential COVID-19 vaccine. 

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The Company

The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based pharmaceutical and biotechnology company Moderna, Inc. specializes in mRNA vaccines and other RNA treatments. To elicit an immunological response, these vaccines copy a molecule known as messenger RNA (mRNA).

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, sometimes known as Spikevax, is the only commercially available item for the company. 

The company will have 44 potential treatments and vaccines by the year 2022, 21 of which have started clinical studies. Influenza, HIV, respiratory syncytial virus, Epstein-Barr virus, the Nipah virus, chikungunya, a single-shot COVID-19 booster and influenza vaccine, a cytomegalovirus vaccine, and two cancer vaccines are among the targets for vaccine candidates. 

Candidates for cancer immunotherapy using OX40 ligand, interleukin 23, IL36G, and interleukin 12 are also in the company’s pipeline. 

In addition, the company is collaborating with AstraZeneca on a regenerative medicine treatment that encodes vascular endothelial growth factor A to promote blood vessel growth for patients with myocardial ischemia.

Regarding its COVID-19 vaccine, Moderna and the NIH are embroiled in a patent battle. The NIH claims that three of its experts contributed significantly to the vaccine’s development over a four-year period of cooperation. 

Moderna delayed the last payment for filing the application after first completely rejecting the pooled patent application, abandoning the patent application unfiled as of December 2021.

Photo: Entreprende

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