Moderna CEO says Covid vaccines will be developed like ‘iPhone’

As Covid-19 continues to mutate, Moderna must keep updating the vaccines that have made it a global household name while trying to make them more convenient for consumers, CEO Stephane Bansel said in an interview with CNN Business on Wednesday.

He estimated a timeline of “three to five years” for the new joint product, and compared the development of the life-saving jab to a smartphone.

“You don’t get an amazing camera, amazing everything when you first get an iPhone, but you get a lot of things,” he said.

“Most of us buy a new iPhone every September, and you get new apps and you get fresh apps. And it’s exactly the same idea, that you get Covid and flu and RSV. [respiratory syncytial virus] In one of your doses.”
Record breakneck growth during the pandemic, modern (MRNA) Now he is under pressure to identify his next big frontier.

Bansel believes the Covid-19 pandemic, which has helped the company collect billions of dollars in revenue and generate business in more than 70 markets globally, could end early this year.

That doesn’t mean the virus is going anywhere, he said.

“I think we’re slowly moving – if not already in some countries – to a world where all the tools are available, and everyone can make their own decisions based on their risk tolerance,” he added, adding that he believes many people will choose . “Living with the virus,” much like they do with the flu.

Approaches, however, will continue to vary greatly, such as in immunocompromised individuals or in countries like Japan, where wearing masks was common even before the pandemic, he acknowledged.

And “there’s always a 20% chance that we get a very bad version that drives a very severe disease with multiple mutations,” he added.

Another big thing

Still, Moderna is determined to be a one-hit wonder.

The company has more than 40 products in development, and is planning for a better life beyond Covid-19, Bansel said.

In addition to the updated annual booster, it continues to develop a personalized cancer vaccine, for which new clinical data will drop later this year. Bansel said if everything goes well, the product could go for approval in about two years.

The company is also exploring a potential monkeypox jab, which is “still in the lab today,” Bansel said. The World Health Organization last month declared the global outbreak of the disease a public health emergency of international concern.

And Moderna is trying to catch up to foreign competitors.

Earlier this year, it announced a push into 10 Asian and European markets, including Singapore, Hong Kong, Denmark and the Netherlands. The investment will cost “tens of millions of dollars” and include hundreds of new hires, Bansel said.

Members of the public wait in line at a vaccination facility administering the Moderna Covid-19 shot in Taipei, Taiwan in April.  The company is pushing deeper into Asia this year by establishing new subsidiaries.
He sees a wave of expansion that will take Moderna from operations in 12 countries this year directly to “40 to 60 countries” over the next three years.
The company has also recently signed production deals in the United Kingdom, South Korea and Australia, and hopes to set up one or two more plants in Southeast Asia or North Asia.

Bansel said the new features will be important in helping his products adapt to the different types of diseases that spread around the world.

Pfizer and Moderna created life-saving vaccines.  So why are their stocks falling?

When the world first faced the onset of Covid-19, Moderna was one of a handful of large manufacturers that rushed to prepare their vaccines, cutting the timeline from years to months. Its stock rose 434% in 2020 and 143% last year.

But, like friends now Pfizer (PFE) and Biotech (BNTX)The firm’s stock has fallen, falling more than 30% so far this year and 64% from its all-time high a year ago.
Last week, the company disclosed that it took a writedown of about $500 million in the second quarter, partly due to the sudden cancellation of orders from Covax, an international vaccine program for low-income countries.

The reversal caused huge losses for the company, which had to buy new machines to fulfill those orders, and more importantly, the Covid vaccines were thrown into the trash, Bansel said.

“We destroyed the vaccines,” he said. “It was really heartbreaking.”

The CEO said he was not worried about that kind of slide in repeated demand in rich countries, as governments have already made commitments to use vaccines by the end of this year to avoid resuming economic lockdowns.

But “on the low-income side, yes, I’m concerned,” he said.

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