(Reuters) - Moderna Inc said on Friday it plans to build an mRNA vaccine manufacturing facility in Quebec province as part of the COVID-19 vaccine maker's 10-year partnership with the Canadian government to better prepare for future pandemics.
The construction of the facility, which would be able to produce up to 100 million mRNA respiratory vaccine doses annually, is expected to start this year and is likely to be operational by end 2024, Moderna said in a statement.
A Moderna executive in Canada also announced at the news conference that the company had asked Canada to approve its COVID vaccine for pediatric use in children aged 6 months to 5 years.
Once operational, the facility would provide access to a domestically manufactured portfolio of mRNA vaccines against respiratory viruses, including COVID, seasonal influenza, and others, contingent on approval by Health Canada.
"Being able to produce made in Canada mRNA vaccines is not just important for COVID-19 or for future pandemics," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a news conference in Montreal.
"It also will have a significant impact in the research that they're doing on a range of illnesses" including Alzheimer's and various cancers, he said.
As part of the partnership signed in August, Moderna is also expected to support research and development and other commercial collaborations in the country.
"This partnership is designed to provide Canadians with access to Moderna's vaccines in future pandemics and health emergencies," said Moderna Chief Executive Officer Stéphane Bancel.
(Reporting by Ankur Banerjee in Bengaluru, Doina Chiacu in Washington; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Frances Kerry)