MONTREAL — The new mRNA vaccine factory being built near Montreal by Moderna will help ensure Canada's health security in the face of more pandemics that are expected in the coming decades, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday.
Trudeau took part in a groundbreaking ceremony in Laval, Que., for the new facility by the Massachusetts-based biotechnology company. He donned a helmet and reflective vest as he toured the grounds, where preparation and foundation work is underway.
The factory is expected to be completed in 2024 at the earliest and produce 100 million doses of mRNA vaccines per year. It will manufacture vaccines against COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses, including influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.
The prime minister told reporters the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred conversations about "how to make sure Canada is once again able to respond not just to its own needs, but to help lead the world at a time of uncertainty and a time of potentially more pandemics in the coming decades."
He was accompanied by several provincial and federal politicians, including federal Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne and Laval Mayor Stéphane Boyer. Trudeau told reporters that Moderna's new factory represents an investment in the health-care security of Canadians and also in a research ecosystem that will deliver good jobs for years to come.
Stephen Hoge, the president of Moderna, said Quebec was chosen for the facility in part because of its "strong regulatory environment" and its skilled workforce.
Moderna, Hoge added, has dozens of medications under study, including those to tackle cancer and rare metabolic diseases. "There's incredible potential in our technology in cancer," he said, adding that the company is awaiting results from early-stage clinical trials.
Champagne said Canada has committed to purchase a certain number of vaccines from the factory as part of a seven-year agreement, but he didn't provide a precise number. He said the federal government did not invest in the facility itself.
The factory, Champagne added, would employ hundreds of people during its construction and "more than 200 people" once it opens.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 7, 2022.
Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press