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Drugmaker in Portsmouth, NH producing batches of potential COVID-19 vaccine

Lonza Biologics is partnering with Moderna Therapeutics which has launched phase 3 trials for a potential COVID-19 vaccine.

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — The quest for a COVID-19 vaccine has entered the final and the most important stage for two companies in New England.  

A Swiss drugmaker is currently making batches at it's U.S. facility at the Pease International Tradeport in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Lonza signed a 10-year deal with Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Moderna Therapeutics to speed up the production of a potential virus vaccine. Moderna was the first biotech company in the U.S. to conduct human trials earlier this year, and phase 3 trials began this week. 

Lonza is readying its production capacity to make smaller batches for thousands of volunteers who will participate in the trials. Depending on how the studies go, large scale production of the vaccine could start by the end of the year. 

"Roughly getting to 2021 about five hundred million produced out of our facilities, ultimately 2022 and beyond upward of a billion doses," Mark Caswell, Lonza's Head of Engineering and Facilities at Lonza Biologics. 

Moderna's phase 3 trials will involve 30,000 volunteers recruited at nearly 100 research sites across the country.  

Moderna's vaccine is being developed with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID). Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of NIAID, told members of Congress Friday he is "cautiously optimistic" the vaccine will be successful.

For more information on clinical trials being conducted by the NIAID and Moderna Therapeutics click here.