Moderna Takes the Lead in Vaccine Development


It didn’t take long for a new rising contender to appear since Pfizer’s last announcement of 90% efficiency in COVID-19 prevention. Moderna shares soared 16% in premarket trade on 16th Nov after the biotech company said its vaccine candidate met its primary endpoint in a Phase 3 trial, demonstrating a 94.5% success rate. In this clinical trial of 95 participants, it was observed that the vaccine was well tolerated and no meaningful side-effects were reported. The biotech company anticipates it will be able to produce between 500 million and 1 billion doses in 2021.

Outshining Contenders

Dr. Geulah Livshits, a Senior Research Analyst at Chardan covering biotech companies, says “The result provides important validation of Moderna’s specific mRNA and LNP technologies and positions the company to compete among major vaccine players.” The 5-star analyst also notes a few reasons why Moderna’s vaccine outshines its contenders. One of them being its stability parameters where the mRNA-1273 is expected to remain stable under standard refrigeration temperatures for up to 30 days, and at room temperature for up to 12 hours; a distribution advantage. On the other hand, Pfizer/ BioNtech’s candidate requires shipping at -70°C.

Oppenheimer analyst Hartaj Singh calls the positive data the “culmination of great science and execution”. He believes that mRNA-1273’s ability to be stored at standard refrigerator temperatures was a “major milestone” that could have a significant impact on Moderna’s other vaccine programs.

Why Are Markets Still Sliding?

Despite better news of a more effective vaccine, the markets are not performing as well as the previous Monday during Pfizer’s unveiling of their impressive vaccine. This should not be surprising as there are many day-traders selling to make their short-term profit. Furthermore, these vaccines still need to be approved by the F.D.A. and it will take several months to reach widespread distribution.

Undeterred by the “noise”, analysts still strongly feel that Moderna among other biotech companies is worth considering. They believe not to let short-term noise overshadow long-term investing. Ernesto Ramos, managing director and head of equities at BMO Global Asset Management says “the vaccine news drives the economy, and we are poised for pretty strong growth in 2021 relative to 2020.”