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

How the end of cheap money could spark a house price crash
House prices

How the end of cheap money could spark a house price crash

Rock bottom interest rates drove property prices to unaffordable levels. But with rates set to climb and cheap money off the table, we could see house…
28 Sep 2022
Hundreds of mortgage products withdrawn as interest rates surge
Mortgages

Hundreds of mortgage products withdrawn as interest rates surge

Hundreds of mortgage products have been withdrawn after sterling crashed to the lowest levels in decades against the dollar and the Bank of England sa…
28 Sep 2022
What changes to the pensions charge cap mean for you
Pensions

What changes to the pensions charge cap mean for you

The government could raise the pensions charge cap – the amount you can be charged in your workplace's default pension fund. Saloni Sardana explains w…
27 Sep 2022
The best student bank accounts
Personal finance

The best student bank accounts

As we approach the start of an academic year, Ruth Jackson-Kirby rounds up what you should look for when choosing a student bank account and outlines …
27 Sep 2022

Most Popular

Beating inflation takes more luck than skill – but are we about to get lucky?
Inflation

Beating inflation takes more luck than skill – but are we about to get lucky?

The US Federal Reserve managed to beat inflation in the 1980s. But much of that was down to pure luck. Thankfully, says Merryn Somerset Webb, the Bank…
26 Sep 2022
The pick of this year's best-performing investment trusts
Investment trusts

The pick of this year's best-performing investment trusts

Market conditions haven’t been easy, but these investment trusts have delivered strong growth, says David Stevenson.
23 Sep 2022
The hidden cost of employee share schemes
Investment strategy

The hidden cost of employee share schemes

Paying employees in shares comes at a cost to investors – but it isn’t always easy to see how much, says Stephen Clapham.
26 Sep 2022