Moderna eyes vaccine production facility in Philippines

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Moderna eyes vaccine production facility in Philippines
A vial of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine for COVID-19 is seen at an inoculation venue at Haneda Airport in Tokyo on June 14, 2021 on the first day of the company's workplace vaccination campaign.
AFP / Kazuhiro Nogi

WASHINGTON – Pharmaceutical and biotechnology firm Moderna is planning to build a vaccine production facility in the Philippines that will serve the Asia-Pacific region, describing the country as the “perfect location” for the project, Malacañang announced yesterday.

Officials of the vaccine manufacturer informed President Marcos of their plan during a meeting with Philippine officials at the Blair House here yesterday.

In a statement, Presidential Communications Secretary Cheloy Garafil said Moderna would establish a “shared service facility for pharmacovigilance,” its third in the world after Poland and Georgia in the US.

It would be the company’s first investment in the Philippines and its first in Asia, she added.

The facility is expected to provide opportunities to Filipino health professionals.

“We are really excited to have selected the Philippines for the third one, primarily because you know the capabilities exist. We have the talent and we know that the partnership will be one that can be beneficial for both Moderna and the Philippines,” Moderna chief commercial officer Arpa Garay said.

Moderna senior vice president and general manager Patrick Bergstedt was quoted by Garafil as saying that there are other countries that had offered shared services with the pharmaceutical firm but the Philippines was chosen as the “perfect location” for the facility.

Garay said Moderna wants to explore further its “successful” public-private partnership with the Philippine government. The facility is seen to employ around 50 staff composed of health professionals. It will be located either in Makati or at the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig.

Marcos thanked Moderna for its readiness to invest in the Philippines, saying it would give the country an advantage in health care.

“The opportunity to build shared services in areas of interest, connecting with the scientific, academic opportunity with Moderna, the ministry of health is something that we’re very interested in. The most important part is that we sat down and drew the program, and say this is how we approach the problem … Those are the kind of skills that we need,” the President said.

“With your experience in other countries, there are many lessons that we could learn that can be applied in the Philippines,” he added.

Moderna was among the pharmaceutical firms that pioneered the production of COVID-19 jabs.

In a statement yesterday, Moderna said it plans to establish commercial operations in the Philippines.

“We are pleased to expand our footprint into the Philippines by establishing an Enterprise Solutions Hub and commercial operations. The Philippines has a critical mix of talent and global business service expertise, which makes it an excellent location to scale efficiently and provide regional support,” Moderna chief executive officer Stéphane Bancel said.

“The Asia Pacific region is integral to Moderna’s business, with established subsidiaries in Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. We look forward to further solidifying our presence,” Bancel added.

Moderna said the upcoming hub will provide enterprise solutions in the Philippines, similar to its counterparts in Warsaw, Poland and Atlanta, US, which were established in May 2021 and March 2022, respectively.

The hub will initially house finance, pharmacovigilance, medical and HR personnel, in addition to commercial- focused roles, to support its direct presence in the market.

Cruise, BPO

Aside from Moderna officials, Marcos also met with representatives of various companies that have expressed interest to invest in the Philippines or hire Filipino workers.

Garafil quoted John Padget, president and chief executive officer of cruise operator Carnival Corp., as saying that his group of companies would hire 75,000 Filipino seafarers in the next three to four years.

Padget, who also represents Carnival Cruise Line, Holland American Airlines and Seaborn, lauded Filipinos for their hospitality and competitiveness.

“It doesn’t matter whether it’s the marine, deck, hospitality, restaurant… everything is based on the happiness, the smile and the greatness of the Filipino employees,” he said.

Marcos thanked US employers for their continued confidence in Filipino professionals and skilled workers. – Catherine Talavera

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