Moderna’s “stunning” second vaccine

America’s Moderna has come up with a vaccine even more promising than last week’s offering from Pfizer and BioNTech. Matthew Partridge reports

Biotechnology firm Moderna is celebrating after “tremendously exciting” preliminary results from late-stage trials of its Covid-19 vaccine, says Sarah Knapton in The Daily Telegraph. So far, only five people in the trial who received the jab have contracted the virus, compared with 90 who received a placebo, implying that it is nearly 95%-effective in preventing infection. That would make it “even more effective than either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Russian jab”. The trials suggest that it can even protect “the elderly and vulnerable who are most at risk”, with no one who has received the jab developing severe Covid-19 yet (compared with 11 from the placebo group).

Moderna’s success is “stunning”, says Robert Cyran on Breakingviews. Not only is it highly effective, but side effects are also “moderate”. More importantly, it can be stored in a conventional freezer for six months, and in a fridge up to 30 days, making it much easier to distribute than Pfizer’s vaccine, which must be “kept far colder, complicating distribution”. This is particularly good news for emerging markets, who not only lack expensive storage facilities, but will also benefit from the fact that richer countries have ordered far more doses than they need. The US alone ordered 600 million doses.

Vindication after a volatile year

This is “great news”, says Lex in the Financial Times. The data also brings “vindication for one of the sector’s most divisive companies”. After a “record-setting” initial public offering in December 2018, its shares spent much of 2019 trading below its opening price. However, the coronavirus pandemic has put its work on messenger-RNA, which prompts the body to make its own medicine, “back into focus”. Indeed, there are hopes that the Covid-19 jab may represent “proof of concept” for other Moderna treatments, including a personalised cancer vaccine. So, it’s no surprise that its shares have risen by 390% this year. Thanks to its latest success, Moderna should easily find enough money to develop its other vaccines, says Charley Grant in The Wall Street Journal. Its $40bn valuation means it can raise funds by selling shares and it also has $4bn in cash on the books. Selling even 500 million doses of vaccine at $200 each would translate into $10bn, which should come with “attractive profit margins” as Moderna’s decision not to seek a partner means that “it won’t have to share those profits”.

AstraZeneca should also be happy, says Nils Pratley in the Guardian. Moderna’s trial suggests that its own jab, developed in conjunction with Oxford University, will report similarly good news next month. What’s more, it stands to benefit from the fact that it “made a very good bet” when it invested in Moderna as long ago as 2013, back when it was a “three-year-old biotechnology tiddler”. As a result, its 7.6% stake, which cost just $380m, is now worth $2.9bn – a “very decent” return.

Recommended

US stockmarkets shrug off signs of overheating
US stockmarkets

US stockmarkets shrug off signs of overheating

Signs of overheating in the markets are everywhere, but that didn't stop US stocks hitting new record highs last week.
29 Jan 2021
US stockmarkets shrug off the mob's rampage through the US Capitol building
US stockmarkets

US stockmarkets shrug off the mob's rampage through the US Capitol building

US stockmarkets seem more interested in the results of Senate elections in Georgia than on the lawless mob's raid on the country's Capitol building.
14 Jan 2021
DR Horton: US housebuilder that's piling up profits
Trading

DR Horton: US housebuilder that's piling up profits

US housebuilder DR Horton’s stock rests on firm foundations and looks cheap. Matthew Partridge looks at the best way to play it.
26 Feb 2021
Expect more turbulence as the market calls central bankers’ bluff
Stockmarkets

Expect more turbulence as the market calls central bankers’ bluff

With bond yields climbing and stockmarkets sliding, markets are hoping central bankers will step in again to repress interest rates – but that won’t …
26 Feb 2021

Most Popular

A beginner’s guide to bitcoin: what is bitcoin?
Bitcoin

A beginner’s guide to bitcoin: what is bitcoin?

As a completely novel concept for many people, bitcoin can take a little effort to get to grips with. In the first of a short series on the cryptocurr…
1 Mar 2021
A beginner’s guide to bitcoin: how to buy bitcoin
Bitcoin

A beginner’s guide to bitcoin: how to buy bitcoin

For the novice, buying bitcoin can be a daunting prospect. Here, Dominic Frisby outlines the process from start to finish.
2 Mar 2021
What is “yield curve control” and why is it coming to a central bank near you?
Government bonds

What is “yield curve control” and why is it coming to a central bank near you?

Central banks around the world are determined not to let interest rates go up too quickly or by too much – a practice known as “yield curve control”. …
1 Mar 2021