controls a crucial patent on a process used in vaccine making, and its National Institutes of Health helped develop the Moderna vaccine.

All of that gives governments tremendous power to compel companies to work across boundaries, corporate as well as national, but they have been reluctant to use it. In the United States, that has started to change since President Biden took office in January.

“The government has huge leverage, the most over Moderna,” said Tinglong Dai, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins University’s business school who specializes in health care management.

AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, two of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, have run into serious production problems with their Covid-19 vaccines — object lessons in the challenges of scaling up in a hurry from nothing to hundreds of millions of doses.

that process had never been used in a mass-produced vaccine. It calls for different equipment, materials, techniques and expertise than standard vaccines.

The mRNA vaccines encase the genetic material in “lipid nanoparticles,” microscopic bubbles of fat. Few facilities in the world have any experience mass-producing anything comparable. The vaccines also require ultracold temperatures, which experts say limits their use — at least for now — to wealthier countries.

Many pharmaceutical companies insist that they could take on that production, but experts say they would be likely to need considerable time and investment to prepare, a point that Stéphane Bancel, chief executive of Moderna, made in February at a European Parliament hearing.

Even in contracting with highly advanced firms to do the work, Mr. Bancel said, Moderna had to spend months essentially gutting facilities, rebuilding them to new specifications with new equipment, testing and retesting that gear and teaching people the process.

“You cannot go to a company and have them start right away to make mRNA product,” he said.

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