Moderna Uses Amazon Web Services Cloud Technology and Machine Learning to Manufacture and Distribute COVID-19 Vaccines

April 02, 2021 by Alessandro Mascellino

To ensure consistent and rapid vaccine rollout, Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud technology aims to help Moderna medicine development and distribution operations.

The news comes from a discussion published earlier this month on the AWS blog as part of “Executive Conversations,” a series of discussions between industry leaders.

In the news, Marcello Damiani, Chief Digital and Operational Excellence Officer at Moderna discussed the impact of cloud technologies on COVID-19 vaccine development with Todd Weatherby, Vice President of AWS Professional Services Worldwide.


AWS and Moderna Partner on Digital Cloud Services

AWS and Moderna first started collaborating in August 2020, when the biotechnology company was in the early stages of distributing its messenger RNA (mRNA) COVID-19 vaccine. At the time, Amazon announced in a blog post that Moderna had selected AWS as a cloud provider and provided standards for analytics and machine learning workloads.


an infographic of amazon web services

An infographic showing how AWS cloud-technology aims to optimize manufacturing processing with Moderna. Image used courtesy of AWS


In the following months, and building on AWS, Moderna designed research experiments and uncovered new insights, automating its laboratory and manufacturing processes. This translated to enhanced drug discovery pipeline procedures and automated laws and regulations support during production and testing of the vaccine and therapeutic candidates.

Because Moderna is an mRNA vaccine, it needs to construct cells recognized by the body as if they were produced by its organism. Rapid experimentation on various mRNA sequences is paramount for research. Running on AWS’s highly scalable compute and storage infrastructure helped the company perform this task to the best of its abilities, allowing the team to design mRNA sequences for protein targets quickly. 

Analytics and machine learning was then used to optimize the sequences for production so that the company’s automated manufacturing platform could convert them into physical mRNA for testing. 

As part of the partnership, Moderna also deployed the Amazon Redshift warehousing service to allow scientists and engineers to aggregate results from several experiments running in parallel and draw conclusions on improving operational efficiency.


Accelerating COVID-19 Vaccine Development

After almost a year from the beginning of the AWZ/Moderna collaboration, Damiani discussed with Weatherby how the collaboration has facilitated the development of Covid-19 development and consistently scaled its distribution efforts.


Moderna and AWS partner to streamline COVID-19 vaccine production. Image used courtesy of AWS


“Over the years, data from the portal and lab has helped us improve our sequence design and production processes and improve the way our scientists gather feedback,” Damiani explained. The company’s data scientists also built algorithms to accelerate the design of sequences for mRNA. 

“In terms of research, all our algorithms rely on computational power from AWS to further our science,” Damiani said. “On the manufacturing side, everything is fully digitized, paperless, and sits on AWS—including our manufacturing execution system.”

According to Moderna’s Chief Digital and Operational Excellence Officer, the company was one of the first in the industry to build its manufacturing execution systems at AWS. “Then for clinical trials, most of our clinical trial data reside on AWS and we use Amazon Redshift for analytics, including those that supported our COVID-19 vaccine development,” Damiani added.


Moderna Scaling Their Manufactuing Execution System and Enterprise Resource Planning

In terms of distribution, Moderna scaled up its manufacturing execution system and enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform via close collaboration with AWS Professional Services and Answerthink. 

By consolidating these workstreams, the company could shorten the timeline for upgrading the system from five months to just two, thus becoming able to deliver vaccines in more than 30 countries. Moving forward, Damiani said Moderna intends to continue the collaboration with AWS to scale up its operation further.

“Now that we have the mechanisms in place that helped us launch our first vaccine, we’re focusing on how to collect data across the globe to improve our clinical trials and build the next generation of drugs that can help the world,” he concluded.

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