Shares of Moderna rose nearly 7% on Monday after TD Cowen upgraded the stock and said the company will be a “leader” in the RSV vaccine market.
TD Cowen also highlighted Moderna’s other vaccine candidates for diseases like the flu, a pipeline that may help the company become “less dependent” on new waves of Covid-19. Shares closed at $147.90 apiece.
“It is clear that mRNA vaccines could disrupt the traditional vaccine market because they can target complex antigens easily and with rapid, cell-free manufacturing, which can lead to an approved product in record time,” wrote Cowen analysts led by Tyler Van Boers. Stock upgrade from market performance to outperformance. “The near-to-mid-term assessment of Moderna is becoming less dependent on the emergence of new COVID variant epidemic waves and even more dependent on PCV, RSV and influenza.”
The upgrade comes as Moderna navigates its post-pandemic boom fueled by its mRNA Covid vaccine. The company became known for its messenger RNA technology, which teaches human cells to produce a protein that triggers an immune response against a specific disease.
Cowen pointed to the company’s potential RSV vaccine, noting that key opinion leaders believe RSV will be a “three-player vaccine market” between Moderna and drugmakers Pfizer and GSK. The three companies are in a race to obtain approval for the world’s first vaccine against respiratory syncytial virus, which infects the lungs and airways and usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms.
While most people recover in a week or two, RSV can be serious, especially for infants and older adults.
Moderna’s RSV vaccine has performed well in clinical trials and has been well tolerated by patients, the release said.
Moderna RSV vaccines for adults 60 years and older received breakthrough therapy status by the Food and Drug Administration in late January. The designation is intended to accelerate the development and review of drugs for serious or life-threatening conditions and was based on positive top-line data from Moderna’s Phase 3 clinical trial of the vaccine.
Moderna’s vaccine was 83.7% effective in preventing RSV with two or more symptoms in people 60 years and older and 82.4% effective in preventing lower respiratory tract disease with three or more symptoms. No safety concerns were identified during the study, and the company said it intends to release the full dataset and share the results during an upcoming medical conference.
The effectiveness of the Moderna shot is comparable to that of GSK: an FDA review of the company’s data found that it was about 83% effective in preventing RSV-related lower respiratory disease during its study.
But GSK and Pfizer are still a step ahead of Moderna. Earlier this month, the Food and Drug Administration’s independent advisory panel recommended GSK’s RSV vaccine for adults age 60 and older, and a Pfizer syringe for the same age group.
Cowen noted that Moderna believes the regulatory support of its competitors’ RSV candidates should be “read through” for its own.
Correction: Article updated to reflect the stock skyrocketed on Monday.
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