Sign up to myFT Daily Digest to be the first to know about Moderna news.
Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine remains 93 percent effective six months after the second dose, the drugmaker said, as sales of the shot helped the company achieve record quarterly profits.
The company’s coronavirus vaccine generated $4.2 billion in second-quarter sales, Moderna said Thursday, pushing it to a profit of $2.8 billion. Earnings were in line with analyst expectations, rising from $1.2 billion in the first quarter of 2021.
The biotech said its vaccine was still 93 percent effective against coronavirus infection and 98 percent effective against hospitalization after six months.
The US drugmaker reiterated its belief that booster shots will be needed later this year, despite the high six-month efficacy of its original two-dose Covid vaccine regimen.
It said phase 2 trials showed the three booster options elicited a “robust antibody response” against Covid-19 variants of care, including Delta, which has been blamed for rising infections in some countries, including the US.
“We believe that the increased infection power resulting from the Delta variant and the seasonal effects of moving indoors will ultimately lead to an increase in breakthrough infections in vaccinated individuals,” said Stephen Hoge, president of Moderna.
He added that a “booster dose will likely be needed this fall, especially in light of the Delta variant”. Delta is responsible for the majority of new Covid infections in the US and has led to rising hospitalizations in low-vaccination states.
Health officials are investigating whether booster shots are needed to maintain immunity against the virus. Moderna’s booster trials use 50 mg doses instead of the 100 mg dose used in the original vaccine regimen. Hoge said the company would wait to review the data from its 100mg booster trials, which are expected “within a few weeks,” before submitting regulatory approval.
Pfizer has already said it plans to seek US regulatory approval for a third injection. On Wednesday, the World Health Organization called for a pause in the provision of boosters until more people in developing countries are vaccinated.
Moderna focuses its booster efforts on its original vaccine, multi-strain targeting multivalent injections, and a Delta variant-specific injection. It has dropped a vaccine targeting the beta variant because “the epidemiology has moved from the beta variant to Delta,” Hoge said.
Moderna has sold 199 million doses of its mRNA vaccine in the three months to June and has signed $20 billion in Covid-19 vaccine contracts this year, including sales already realized.
The vaccine is approved for use in Europe, the US, the UK, Japan and Canada, among others.
Moderna expects to produce up to 1 billion doses of vaccine this year and 3 billion in 2022. Stéphane Bancel, chief executive, said the drugmaker’s production capacity has now been “fully reached” for 2021 and the company will not take any new orders.
It has signed $12 billion in contracts for 2022 and additional options worth $8 billion, and has a number of contracts for 2023, including with Israel and Switzerland. The company plans to initiate a share repurchase program for up to $1 billion in shares over the next two years.
Hoge said that as the pandemic becomes endemic, “market forces” would determine the price of vaccine doses.
The biotech company has applied for full regulatory approval in the US and expects to complete the filing in August.
Shares of Moderna rose 2 percent in morning trading in New York.