Moderna CEO clarifies company’s vaccine production capacity at Davos 2023

Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel spoke at the Davos 2023 conference about how the company was able to quickly scale up vaccine production at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

False Claim Circulates Online About Moderna’s Covid Vaccine Production

Bancel said that Moderna had only manufactured a total of 100,000 doses of vaccine in 2019 and had to scale up production capacity to be able to make a billion doses because of the pandemic. However, some online users have falsely claimed that Moderna made 100,000 Covid vaccine doses before the pandemic started.

Moderna’s 2019 Portfolio and Covid Vaccine Production

The clip of Bancel’s response was circulated on social media with a false caption that misinterpreted his remarks.

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Reuters streamed the full Davos 2023 session, and the “State of the Pandemic” panel discussion can be seen on the World Economic Forum site.

During the panel, the moderator asked Bancel about the company’s current production capacity to make variant-specific Covid vaccines, and Bancel responded by recalling how Moderna had to scale up production at the start of the pandemic.

Other Vaccines and Therapeutics in Moderna’s Pipeline in 2019

Moderna did not produce 100,000 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine in 2019, according to Chris Ridley, a Moderna spokesperson. Bancel’s remark about having made 100,000 doses referred to the company’s entire output in 2019, not to Covid vaccines.

Ridley explained that the 100,000 Bancel mentioned during the “State of the Pandemic” session referred to “total doses across our portfolio: Vaccines, rare diseases, cancer – the entire companies 2019 pipeline,” and from there, “we scaled to 1B doses just for Covid.”

Covid-Related Conspiracy Theories and Misinformation

In 2019, Moderna reported at least four different vaccines in clinical trials, including a vaccine against the Zika virus, a flu vaccine, and vaccines against other respiratory viruses.

It also reported results from a trial of a Chikungunya virus therapeutic. On Jan. 23, 2020, Moderna announced funding from the WHO-affiliated Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations to work on a potential vaccine against the novel coronavirus in a partnership with the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Debunks Claim that Moderna Worked on Covid-19 Vaccine Before Pandemic

The false claim that Moderna had made 100,000 Covid vaccine doses before the pandemic began is just one of many Covid-related conspiracy theories that have circulated online.

Reuters has previously debunked a claim that Moderna worked on its Covid-19 vaccine before the SARS-CoV-2 virus was officially named in Feb. 2020, which some people used as evidence that the pandemic was planned in advance.

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