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Changing the Status Quo of Vaccine Production
immunization to overcome this pandemic.
Despite the admitted early failures in the
response to SARS-CoV-2, retrospective reports
applaud the unprecedented speed at which
COVID-19 vaccines were developed and
deployed-speed to clinic had never been more
important. The Moderna vaccine (mRNA-1273)
went from sequence selection to preclinical
evaluation in 63 days and was in commercial
production in just 10 months.2
The disease-agnostic
mRNA/LNP platform can be
easily adapted to produce
a wide range of RNA-based
treatments that can expand
the scope of the technology
beyond infectious diseases
to broader disease targets.
By comparison, the development of the mumps
vaccine, which previously held the fastest
record, took four years from the initial isolation
of the virus to regulatory approval in 1967.2,3
Lessons learned during the development of
COVID-19 vaccines underscore the need to
reimagine the current paradigm of vaccine
production from design to manufacturing
methods, which has lagged severely behind.
Reinvigorated investment in the vaccine
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industry to replace outdated technologies
and embrace new innovations can help better
prepare the world for future pandemics and
democratize global access to vaccines.
The mRNA technology behind COVID-19 vaccines
is poised to disrupt the status quo where speed,
versatility, and flexible platform production
represent significant advantages to improve
global vaccine manufacturing capabilities.
Convergence of innovative technologies
Decades of mRNA research have been
brought to fruition by the Moderna and
Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines, which rely
on mRNA to deliver the genetic instructions
encoding the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein to
cells.4 In contrast to classical vaccines, RNA
technology leverages the cells' own translational
machinery to produce the viral proteins
that will activate the immune system.
A critical technology that was essential to the
successes of the mRNA vaccines is the lipid
nanoparticle (LNP) delivery system used to
get the mRNA inside cells. LNPs encapsulate
and protect the mRNA to facilitate its entry
into cells where it is translated and presented
as a membrane-bound spike protein antigen
that can elicit an immune response.
The modularity of mRNA and LNP technologies
can provide the agility for rapid, iterative
prototyping of vaccine variants without the
need for process modification or revalidation
since common manufacturing processes can be


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