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Moderna (MRNA) Up on Plans to Get Omicron Booster Ready in 2022

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Shares of Moderna MRNA gained 9.3% on Jan 10, following the announcement that the company will proceed with the development of its mRNA-based Omicron-specific variant vaccine (mRNA-1273.529) to clinical-stage early in 2022.

The company is planning to make the Omicron-specific booster available for immunization of the general public in the fall season of 2022 or the fourth quarter of 2022.

Moderna had announced its plans to develop an Omicron-specific booster since the emergence of the new variant in November last year. The company is currently developing the candidate in a pre-clinical study.

An Omicron-specific booster is the need of the hour with spiking cases of COVID-19 infections, especially caused by the new variant across the globe. The Omicron variant is rapidly spreading infecting millions despite vaccination.

The number of new COVID-19 infection cases per day in the United States is far more than the first outbreak of COVID-19 or later during the rise of the Delta variant. New infection cases were more than 1.4 million on Jan 10 in the United States. The highest daily infection cases in the previous two waves were around 0.3 million in the country. The scenario is almost similar worldwide as daily new infection cases seem to have almost trebled in the recent wave.

Moderna benefited from the robust sales of its COVID-19 vaccine in 2021. The company stated that it had shipped 807 million doses of the vaccine during the year and recorded $17.5 billion in revenues.

Amid the skyrocketing cases of COVID-19 infections, Moderna plans to develop an Omicron-specific booster to boost the company’s revenue growth potential. The company has raised its product sales guidance for 2022. The company stated that its advance purchase agreement worth $18.5 billion is already in place compared with the earlier figure of $17 billion.

Moderna’s shares have gained 99.3% in the past year against the industry’s decline of 31%.

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Zacks Investment Research

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Developers of another mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine, Pfizer PFE and BioNTech BNTX, are also developing an Omicron-specific booster jab. Reportedly, Pfizer and BioNTech expect the booster jab to be ready by March this year.

Please note that Pfizer and BioNTech’s mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine, Comirnaty, is the leading COVID-19 vaccine in terms of sales figures. The vaccine is expected to generate revenues in 2021 which will more than double of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine in the same period.

We expect Pfizer and BioNTech to maintain their lead in the COVID-19 space in 2022 as well. Moreover, Pfizer has also come up with an oral COVID-19 drug, Paxlovid, which is likely to bring additional revenues for the company.

Moderna, Inc. Price

Moderna, Inc. Price
Moderna, Inc. Price

Moderna, Inc. price | Moderna, Inc. Quote

Zacks Rank & Stock to Consider

Moderna currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals REGN is a better-ranked stock from the pharma/biotech sector, carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Estimates for Regeneron have improved from earnings per share of $67.33 to $71.06 for 2021 and from $46.31 to $50.23 for 2022 over the past 60 days.

Regeneron delivered an earnings surprise of 28.93%, on average, in the last four quarters. Shares of REGN have gained 23.5% in the past year.

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